One big THANK YOU! That’s all. (Allexandra’s Reflective Essay)

Dear Kingston,

This is the only blog post that I really do not know how to start. The only thing that is on my mind right now is gratefulness. I am so happy and thankful to everyone that has been part of my journey in Kingston University. I want to thank my teachers and especially my course leader for always pushing us and telling us that we can do better! I want to thank my colleagues for being so inspiring and such a good company- you really made my classes better (especially the early ones.. on Friday!) And finally I want to thank myself for having guts to complete this journey as only I know what I went through to get where I am now.

There are a lot of things I have learned from my Design-Thinking module. Some of them came from class, some of them came from places I never thought they would! Overall, I can gladly say it has been a wonderful experience for all of us.

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It was like building a LEGO. Brick, after brick, you get to see what will happen. You just need to have good and solid ground and base, well calculated strategy and a smart working team! Sometimes you will change the bricks, because in the process you will see exactly what you need. Most of all, no matter what you thought at the beginning that will happen, will turn out to be quite different than the initial thoughts you have had. And this is not a bad thing! The majority of times my team will come to a conclusion that “it’s just not going to work”, but after managing it the right way and having trust in each other,  it all comes into place! You just need to have nerves, time and a really good communication with your team!

Dragon’s Den pitch in an hour? Let’s grab a drink!
Probably my course leader will freak out when she sees this, but I have discovered something quite curious about teamwork and especially my hardly manageable team-
sometimes you just need to “chill out for a second”!

Sometimes having “stage fright is good- especially when you are an artist, performing on stage, you love this kind of feeling, when you just feel alive! Well, with pitching it’s the opposite- you have to take deep breaths and gather your mind so that you speech and mind are clear when “selling out” your ideas.

Since members of my team were quite unsure about themselves, although they were doing perfect job and their speech was clear and settled, I decided to upgrade the level of our teamwork! Since we really went out for drinks quite seldom, while other teams would often do their actual work in pubs, while drinking beer, I decided to make a tradition– every time before we have an important thing together as a team, we will clear our minds an hour before the “big event”. This was to refresh our minds, release the stress and just not think for work for a second!

What happened really is that we were connecting even further. We felt as close as never before, to each other, and the atmosphere was really “team-like”. As we had issues at the beginning of the course, this strategy help us for our bonding as a team, for having clearer mind and feeling less stressful so that the levels of our confidence would rise when doing the important part. Also we did not drink for the sake of drinking (we often would have just one cider or beer, not more!), but more for the sake of being in this together and going through it as a team!

After all, it is really about the team, not the idea (Coward, A, 2015). Even Alexis Ohanian, the founder of “reddit” company we visited in San Francisco, told us that at the beginning, when their first idea was rejected, they did eventually receive the phone call, and people did want to work with them, because of nothing else, but the fact that they (he and his partner) were an awesome team! This is what they told us at the company “True-Start” we visited in Central London as well. So, choose wisely who are you going to work with, and if things don’t go right just remember- be consistent, work together and communicate! Thus you will find a way to form the perfect team!

Always ask WHY?

 

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“The Why Why Family” was one of my favourite cartoons as a kid, where they would explain common things for life and deliver it in a way, appropriate and interesting for children who were watching it (know your customers/TV audience!). Photo: Google


I remember, one of the first things I learned from Design Thinking classes was that finding a purpose of your business is the actual base of your LEGO (it has to be solid to make it possible to support the whole structure). After finding the problem, the next step would be finding a way to resolve it. The process of salvation of the problem has to focus on us as human beings, our needs. Thus, innovation is born (Brown, 2009). Having an actual value behind your product is what makes it special, although if it’s just a vase from the charity shop, it is often about the story behind it (Walker, R., Glenn, J., 2009)
HOW + WHAT= VALUE
(Dorst, 2011)
You have to solve the problem using all you know. Thus, what you know will help you reach the unknown! We knew that society had the problem of gender inequality. We knew what we want to do- find a way to solve it. By implementing value in an insignificant at first sight object as the bowtie we find A WAY to help resolve the issue. Hence, our business had value and it make a small step to an actual change in the world!

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Kill your baby!  
In the process of developing our product we find a lot of challenges. We changed our product, because of people’s feedback. We learned that it’s not about what we want, it’s about what users want! We were forced to kill our baby! After all, this is one of the most significant lessons we’ve learned: Fail fast- LEARN FAST! (Ries, E., 2011) You learn from you mistakes and what you do along the way. Thank God we learned that fast- so, we improved fast!

Keep it easy, man!
This actual lesson we learned for real when we were in Fab Lab in Central London. We failed in the process of presenting and actual MVP, because we were trying to do the impossible (Ries, E., 2011) It is important your goals are achievable and easy to do so.
After all the quality is what’s important, because it doesn’t matter how many followers you have on Instagram, but how many of them are actually your target group and are in a way valuable contacts to you.

Alexis Ohanian told us the same thing! Reddit is so famous, because they managed a way to make the process of posting content EASIER. Simplicity over complexity! (Gothelf, J., 2013). Google told us the same, all companies and people in the USA value EASY. I mean, look at the iPhone- even babies can use them! We applied this to almost everything- our stand at the trade fairs got more simple, thus the product popped out more. Our pitch in front of the judges became clearer as we removed so many unnecessary things! Easy matters and we learned that!

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We also managed to brand ourselves, as we branded the business. Everything matched the colours of our brand, even our uniforms! We succeeded in creating an image, that helped our business be recognisable! Thus more people find out about our initiative and we broadened our audience!

It also matters WHERE you advertise yourselves (Zarrella, 2010). For our social media we used Instagram to share our aesthetics- pictures and Facebook and Twitter we used to create discussions and promote our events.

Relationships with customers matter and the feedback you gain is important to help improve your sales, as it’s not about what you want, but what the user desires. It is also important to have clear goals and to be certain and specific WHAT you want to achieve, exactly. I am very spontaneous as a person and this created a lot of problems for me as often I wouldn’t be able to organise myself and be clear what I want. This lead to another important lesson being learned- the skill to be self-organised (Jerinabi, U & Santhi, P, 2012). Time management and setting my priorities became efficient in my work. Often I’d be late with my work and I saw it reflected the teamwork as well, so after all I read a lot on the topic and now I can proudly say finally I know how to write an essay, without having to stress at the last minute!

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The photo you see above actually represents my whole journey at Kingston. All this time I have been surrounded by anxiety and pressure as I was thousands of miles away from my comfort zone. It really made the whole experience a small nightmare as for the first time in my life I had to deal with panic attacks as I have NEVER experienced anything like it! Being away from home and not having the chance to see your family for 8 months is something I never thought I’d experience.

However, on the other side, there was an island. A small island of paradise! An island where I met wonderful people and made wonderful friends. An island where I found knowledge and something that I can use to help achieving my future goals. Kingston University is just like Hogwarts – the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from the Harry Potter series (Wikipedia, 2017)- help can always be found for those who search for it (Rownling, J.K, 2007). I learned there is nothing scary and nothing to be ashamed of if you need help- after all we are all here (in Kingston and on Earth overall) to learn! Regardless the issue, I always find what I was searching for- from books to medical help. I did a few sessions with the psychologist at the main campus and she helped me not only with finding a way to organise my self and my time, but she taught me how to relax and live life to the fullest, without being anxious at all times!

My journey at Kingston was definitely not one of the easiest things I have done, but I managed to be here- at the finishing line! Well there are few meters left to it, but now I am more confident and clear (with myself) than ever so I am positive I will do it!
I finally found the VALUE of the whole process! There are many valuable things I have learned throughout the whole experience in Design Thinking, but I have to write a book to tell them all! Probably some day I will, who knows, haha! After all I know it is all in my mind and now all I have to do is use the best of it to help achieve my future goals!
And for this- I sure WILL!

Thank you!

Sincerely yours,

Allexandra

28/04/2017
London, United Kingdom

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References:

Brown, T. (2009). Change by design.

Coward, A. (2015). Great teams. A guide to better creative collaboration. Bracket Ltd London.

Dorst, K. (2011). The core of ‘design thinking’ and its application. Design studies.

Gothelf, J. (2013). Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience. USA: O’Reilly

Jerinabi, U & Santhi, P. (2012). Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Allied Publishers

Ries, E. (2011) The Lean Startup. London: Penguin Group.

Rowling, J.K. (2007). Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Bloomsbury. UK/Canada.

Walker, R., Glenn. J. (2009). Significant objects. 

Wikipedia. (2017). Hogwarts. Availavle at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hogwarts (Accessed: 26 April 2017)

Zarrella, D. (2010). The Social Media Marketing Book. Canada: O’Reilly.

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