MNSU students given beneficial design thinking skills

Carley Sonju
Staff Writer

The College of Business Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship held the Design Thinking Workshop Tuesday at the Hubbard Building in Downtown Mankato.

The goals of the Design Thinking Workshop were to become acquainted with one’s design thinking qualities and to practice design thinking by participating in a simulation.

The workshop was presented by Destination Medical Center, an economic growth initiative out of Rochester, Minnesota.

The difference between a design thinking approach and a traditional business approach is that design thinking focuses on how things could or should be, and a traditional approach focuses on how things are.

After getting into groups of four, the first step of the workshop was to choose a persona that the group would be using for the rest of the workshop. Each persona came with a background story and character traits. Then, the group were to choose a disability that affects the persona they chose. For example, the persona they chose could be a middle-aged woman who cares for her aging father, and the disability you choose could be aging, since that affects the middle-aged woman and the father. This step of the workshop was called framing.

The second step of the workshop was to conceptualize ideas that could address unmet needs. In design thinking, it is important to always keep the person in mind, and to build on ideas of others. The participants were asked to write 12 possible solutions to their problem.

Third in the process of design thinking is to experiment with their ideas. Choose the best one of the 12 possible solutions and expand on it. Assess what resources you will need, what you don’t already know about the issue, and prototype your solution. It is also important to keep in mind that you may need to reframe your problem depending on the experimental results.

The workshop was designed to help students in the College of Business prepare for the pitch contest, which takes place in the spring.

One of the speakers, economic developer Chris Schad, said, “Every one of these people in this room have the potential to have an idea they could pitch at the pitch competition. Our goal is to have more better ideas submitted in the spring. These design thinking workshops are one way to come up with more better ideas.”

He continued, “We share a little bit about what we know, and out of this room we hope to get half a dozen to a dozen really good applications to the pitch competition.”

The purpose of the pitch competition is to encourage young entrepreneurs to get their ideas out into the marketplace.

Design thinking is a cycle of framing, ideating, and experimenting. This process helps keep the client in mind while designing solutions. The participants of the workshop gained crucial information to expanding their problem-solving strategies.

Header photo: Gerry Greaney talks to students about having a clear vision about developing new ideas during Design Thinking Workshop Conference held in the Hubbard Building collaborative space Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019 in Mankato, Minn. (Prasad Pol/MSU Reporter)

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