#MACE16: Reflective Essay

“A person’s success can be measured by the amount of uncomfortable conversations they’ve had.” – Tim Ferriss

The Design Thinking for Startups Module have been very educative, challenging and interactive. But one unique lesson that I will never forget is to always put focus on the people, not the product.

The module have taught me to think and work differently, empowered me with tools needed in solving not just business related problems, discovering opportunities, and generating innovative, human-centered solutions.

From my experience during the module, creating and lunching a new product is frightening and a challenging task. But adopting a human centered perspective and an attitude of continual experimentation makes the whole task easy to manage.

One thing I have also discovered during this module is the fact there is never a one size fits all mold of how to design and launch new products into the market. Questioning things and going against the grain to understand the underlying process helps to bring any product to the market.

Below are five things I have learnt and I will apply in the near future.

1. Solve a Real Problem:

Solving business related problems involves identify the problem. Consumers or end users of any product and service will always have problems, people will always look for innovative ways or product to accomplish everyday tasks.

But as long as consumers have problems, they will always search for solutions.

Coming up with a solution does demand market testing. It’s important not to create a solution to a problem that does not really exist.

Image Source: http://www.davison.com/blog/2015/10/26/inventions-real-solutions-to-real-problems/

The skill here is identifying a real problem that can be effectively solved using market tested tools and resources.

A clearly defined problem does help expedite the path to finding the right (product or service) solution.

2. The Role of Prototyping in Solving Business Problems:

The problem of finding the right modern business solutions have made prototyping a necessity in lunching new product. One effective way of presenting a conjecture of solution to the end users is through prototyping.

As stated in one of my blog post, in “ the primary purpose of rapid prototype is learning – which assumptions make sense, which ones don’t”.

Prototype helps disentangle complex business problems or need. It allows you gather feedback or opinions needed for product or service alteration. Increases and improves stakeholder engagement. Furthermore, the beauty about using prototyping as a tool for product development is the cost of prototyping is just a fraction of the solution cost.

My business group was able to implement a business idea into a wireframe prototype within two days of conceiving it due to the advice we received in class to keep the idea simple.

3. Designing for your Customer:

It very imperative to have a good knowledge and understanding of your potential customer requirements. To effectively sell to your customers it important to identify and manage their expectations at an early stage of product development process.

Engaging with consumers is also an important aspects of knowing your customers. Some of the Business trade show and exhibition organised was geared at us first, understanding the needs of our potential customers.

Image Source: http://www.technologystudent.com/joints/prddes1.htm

It’s also essential to engage with your potential customers directly rather than basing your understanding of them on market research findings.

4. Simplicity is Key!

You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.” – Steve Jobs

In the words of Richard Branson, “Keep it simple, stupid!” It is important the keep the initial product design simple. Focus should always be on the core premise of the product.

Image Source: http://theprofitablefirm.com/tag/website-design/

The customer should be able to know how the product works without them getting frustrated due to complicated design of your product.

5. Role of Good Value Proposition

A truly good value proposition should paint a picture of your brand. It’s should also describe the benefits customers can expect from your products and services. It literally tells your audience:

• How your product or service solves/improves problems

• What benefits customers can expect

• Why customers should buy from you over your competitors

It should also introduce you to prospective buyers and helps you make a strong first impression. Finally, a good design value proposition helps tackle the core challenge of every business — creating compelling products and services customers want to buy.

6. Role of Personas In Design Thinking Process

Applying personas to design thinking process will help you take a step back and build empathy with users, helping you to properly listen and walk in their shoes.

Personas are “not real people or average users but user models described in detail to have the key attributes, needs, values, lifestyle, culture and personal background of the group they represent” (Giulia Piu).

Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/lennetti/design-thinking-service-design-and-innovation-fram/

Alice Comi categorically stated that ” Personas are not specific users but rather ideal types that are built upon observation of multiple users.”

A persona shows attitude, behaviour, emotions and anything that will give more context to understand the personas behaviour.


“Personas were informally developed by Alan Cooper in the early ’80s as a way to empathize with and internalise the mindset of people who would eventually use the software he was designing.”

How Are Personas Created?

Personas can be created in a myriad of ways, This includes;

• Interview and/or observe an adequate number of people.

• Find patterns in the interviewees’ responses and actions, and use those to group similar people together.

• Create archetypical models of those groups, based on the patterns found.

• Drawing from that understanding of users and the model of that understanding, create user-centered designs.

7. Role of Finance and Pricing in Business

The ultimate goal of financed and product pricing is to achieve three benefits: business support service, lowest costs and effective control of the business environment.

Money is the lifeblood of a business and accurate profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow is needed to promote a successful business enterprise.


• Designing for the Digital Age: How to Create Human-Centered Products and Services, Kim Goodwin

• The Essential Persona Lifecycle: Your Guide to Building and Using Personas, Tamara Adlin and John Pruitt

• The User Is Always Right: A Practical Guide to Creating and Using Personas for the Web, Steve Mulder

• Personas and the Advantage of Designing for Yourself,” Joshua Porter

• “Personas: Practice and Theory” (PDF), John Pruitt and Jonathan Grudin, Microsoft

• The Persona Lifecycle: Keeping People in Mind Throughout Product Design, John Pruitt and Tamara Adlin

• “Losing Yourself in a Fictional Character Can Affect Your Real Life,” Jeff Grabmeier, Ohio State University

• “Real or Imaginary: The Effectiveness of Using Personas in Product Design,” Frank Long, Frontend

• “The Personas’ New Clothes: Methodological and Practical Arguments Against a Popular Method” (PDF), Christopher N. Chapman and Russell P. Milham, Microsoft

• “Putting Personas Under the Microscope,” Suzy Thompson, Cooper Journal

• “Quantitative Evaluation of Personas as Information” (PDF), Christopher N. Chapman

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