#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


#MACE16: January 2017 Trade Fair – [Photos]

It was thrilling being part of 1st Trade fair in 2017 which took place at Kingston Business School London. This was a great chance which we displayed and get on the spot answers right away about our prototype product. It was also an opportunity to engage with potential customers.

The Trade Fair also provided us opportunity to give consumers a first-hand experience of products; team members were on hand to showcase our product experiences and more.



#MACE16: 1st Dragons’ Den Presentation

Pitching our business idea to a panel of professional judges was nerve-racking. This might be due to the fact our product was still at the prototype stage. Nevertheless, the presentation was also an opportunity to test our business idea and gather as much feedback as possible.

Furthermore, our prototype product (chopstick trainer) accurately demonstrates the key features and functionality of the final product.

The team main objective is to let the judges quickly understand what we do and be excited about it with a well thought out presentation.

George Uka
Getting ready for our presentation, rehearsing for the last time

George Uka
George Uka with his team members pitching our business proposition to a judging panel mix of successful entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists.

Our product strategy from start has always been creating a product which is “simple”.

We took our time in class to work on the product value preposition. Its was imperative we clearly communicates the benefits of our product to a potential end users.  As  Chris Guillebeau once said in the $100 Startup, “a business ultimately succeeds because of the value it provides its end users, customers, or clients.”

During our presentation we were able to:

  • Describes the problems solved by our product.
  • We explain the benefits the end users will derived from our product.
  • Lastly, we categorically spell out how our product differs from the competition.



#MACE16 : The Art of Good Value Proposition Design

A truly god value proposition should paint a picture of your brand for prospects. It’s must 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
Image result for Value Proposition Design blog
Image Source: wileyasiablog.com

It should introduce you to prospective buyers and helps you make a strong first impression. for example, Apple is believed to have a great value proposition, one that is particularly impressive is its statement for the MacBook.

The company emphasises how lightweight its product is (its biggest differentiator), while also speaking how advanced its technology is.


Image Source: http://www.apple.com/uk/macbook/

Finally,  a good design value proposition helps tackle the core challenge of every business — creating compelling products and services customers want to buy.




#MACE16: From Design Thinking Class To Workshop Induction


I was part of a group of #Mace16 student that attended a 3D workshop induction class at the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture Kingston University London on the 25th of October 2016.  This is a well-equipped modern workshop facility with everything you’ll need to build a product prototype. The support staff took us through the workshop facilities and equipment’s. 


We were introduced to both traditional and latest contemporary design tools at the workshop. We were also instructed to maintain high standards in safety practice since a workshop must always be regarded as a place of relatively high risk. The workshop houses fixed machinery and portable power tools that can maim or kill in moments of negligence, the greatest care must be taken at all times.


 The workshop induction learning experience focuses on practical techniques for designing a new product that combines aesthetic and functional requirements.

#MACE16: 5 Key Steps of Design Thinking

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking means working differently, it also a set of processes for solving problems, discovering opportunities, and generating innovative, human-centered solutions. At its heart, design thinking is about adopting a human-centered perspective and an attitude of continual experimentation.

Five Key Steps of Design Thinking

Step 1 – Empathy

Any social endeavour begins with the human element. It involves identifying the molecules that make up your target audience, getting under their skin and finding out what they value, what they want and how they look at the world.

Step 2 – Define

Every cogent work of design requires something of a mission statement to bring clarity and focus to your work. What exactly are you trying to convey? What and who are you addressing? What are you bringing to the table? Sometimes, a problem statement can be condensed to a word, almost a mantra that acts as a guiding principle and other times it might be too complex to condense into a paragraph even.

Step 3 – Ideate

What separates design thinking from other empirical forms of thinking is the primacy placed on thinking wide, being obtuse if you must, until you arrive at interesting solutions.

The first rule of brainstorming dictates that there are no rules, all ideas are welcome and encouraged.  Ideation gives us better answers to our problems and gives us a better idea of a prototype that can delight it’s users. Thinking creatively, having many voices and solutions helps us conjure up the best product for the user.

Step 4 – Prototype

How does one gauge the reactions of one’s users before the final big reveal? The design thinking process, in all it’s stages poses many nagging questions “Will it work?” or “How will they respond?” or even “Will they even get it at all?”. The best way to allay these fears is to come up with a prototype, a demo or a test model if you will. This can be pretty much anything that he user engages with, which is precisely why the ideation process often gives us interesting ideas for a solid prototype.

Step 5 – Test

Once you have sent out your prototypes, the next natural step is to solicit feedback from you users about their experience interacting with it. The way you choose to do this can even get you closer to your users, making yourself more personable and relatable. As mentioned earlier, it’s all about empathy!

#MACE16 : Rapid Prototyping Experience @ FABLAB London

George Uka and Team presenting our Sand clock prototype product to a team of experts.

How rapid is rapid prototyping? This question evokes different timelines in peoples’ minds. After attending FABLAB London prototype workshop I came out with a different perspective and a deep understanding of the role this process plays in initial  product development.

In the early phase of any product idea, the primary purpose of rapid prototype is learning – which assumptions make sense, which ones don’t. As Janja Song said during the workshop, “It is fine for a prototype to have issues and be ugly,” she says. “The goal of a prototype is to evaluate an idea”.

With a good product prototype it is easy to see if a product idea is worthwhile investing on. If it is not, it can be discard and move on to the next one.

Below are pictures from the workshop event.

fab-value-product1fablab fayy minimum-value minimum-value-protoype proto









#MACE16 : Important of Lean Canvas for Start-ups Business

Listening to Dr Richard Anson explaining how to properly implement Lean business Canvas Model.

Lean Canvas and Business Model is a process of creating more value for customers with fewer resources.

A lean organisation have a good understand of customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it. The goal is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste.

#MACE16: 3 Ways Design Thinking Aid Innovation in Business


Image-Source: Kingshuk Das  https://goo.gl/nPZYHb


Most organisations looking to grow often find themselves caught between conventional and newer approaches to innovation. While traditional strategy calls for rigorous analysis and critical thinking, design thinking espouses ‘thinking by doing’.

As discussed in class, design thinking is a holistic approach to business that, unlike the rigid structure of business, utilises both logic and creativity.

In order to effectively combine and focus these two forces, design thinking is said to be carefully guided by three principles: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. With the help of these three principles, design thinking encourages you to recognise communities with complex problems that you can fix and fuels innovation so you can do just that.

With the help of these three principles, design thinking encourages you to recognise communities with complex problems that you can fix which ends up fuellings innovation.

Below are three Ways design thinking  aid iInnovation in business:

1. Encouraging Creativity. Unlike the traditional structure of the business that analyses the probability of failure before a project is started, design thinking allows you to explore an idea fully so you can see if the solution is effective.

Design thinking encourages you to cast the fear of failure aside and let your creativity accompany you as you brainstorm, experiment, take risks, and expand your mind.

2.Inclusive Communication. The human-centered nature of design thinking necessitates that you communicate with your community in order to thoroughly understand how the product will impact them.

This communication fuels innovation because you cannot attempt to solve a problem if you do not comprehend it. Another level to how communication fuels innovation is through the group sharing and exchanging of ideas, as design thinking encourages collective ownership.

3. Constant Change.  As experienced, design thinking implementation involves creating prototypes that must be tested quickly to measure how they will affect the end users and they must be a process in place for continuous alteration and improvement.

This environment of constant change keeps you from getting stuck on one path and in one way of thinking and instead prompts you to consistently adapt to new problems and develop new solutions.



#MACE16: How Designers Think: What Does Curiosity Feel Like?

This week’s lecture topic was revealing because it gave a look into identifying a new paradigm on how to quickly illustrate creative ideas and the tools needed to implement such ideas.  One of the many objectives of a creative thinking process is to think beyond existing boundaries, to awaken curiosity, to break away from rational, conventional ideas and formalised procedures.

As stated in class last week, there are many definitions of creativity. A number of them suggest that creativity is the generation of imaginative new ideas (Newell and Shaw 1972), involving a radical new innovation or solution to a problem, and a radical reformulation of problems.

This week’s lecture was about being curious and looking at familiar objects and seeing them in a new light, viewing things from another person’s perspective and creating a sustainable product or business that looks beyond today.

We also watched an insightful video that sheds more light on how design thinking can help businesses reframe problems in order to solve them by Professor Kees Dorst, Associate Dean (Research) of Design at UTS

 Video Link : https://vimeo.com/12256739

The Design Thinking Process

The Design Thinking Process first defines the problem and then implements the solutions, always with the needs of the user demographic at the core of concept development.  This process focuses on need finding, understanding, creating, thinking, and doing.  At the core of this process is a bias towards action and creation: by creating and testing something, you can continue to learn and improve upon your initial ideas.

The design thinking process consists of these 5 steps:

design thinking2
Source: http://dschool.stanford.edu
  1. EMPATHIZE: Work to fully understand the experience of the user for whom you are designing.  Do this through observation, interaction, and immersing yourself in their experiences.
  2. DEFINE: Process and synthesise the findings from your empathy work in order to form a user point of view that you will address with your design.
  3. IDEATE: Explore a wide variety of possible solutions through generating a large quantity of diverse possible solutions, allowing you to step beyond the obvious and explore a range of ideas.
  4. PROTOTYPE: Transform your ideas into a physical form so that you can experience and interact with them and, in the process, learn and develop more empathy.
  5. TEST: Try out high-resolution products and use observations and feedback to refine prototypes, learn more about the user, and refine your original point of view.

Design Thinking vs Analytical Thinking?

Analytical thinking is said to be an ‘embedded’ part of design thinking. Design thinking is a whole process put in place for the purpose of coming up with a design solution. It requires both strong analytical skills and creativity. While analytical thinking is the ability to read  collected data and make sense of it, identify the problem(s) or trend or insight, whatever the context. Design thinking goes further into how you turn that information you learned into a solution with creativity and design skills.


In order to gain practical experience around this module, we were sent to the field to ask students what are the influencing factors that can influence their decision making when it comes to buying a particular shoe or brand of shoes. This process was necessary since it is very natural to jump to conclusions and make up various problems we imagined in the class.

The  objective of the survey is to consider the factors a person considers when buying a shoe. What interests or habits may play a role in their decisions making process?  

The study carried out was not limited to any given brands of shoes.The study was conducted with 5 male students and 4 female.


The interviews with the students revealed an engaging insight into the world that gender, age, and income difference does affect decision making.

After gathering all the necessary data, we sat down and debriefed and came to a summary conclusion that the students during summer prefer Hush Puppies for school shoes, Vans for sneakers and Nike or Adidas for rubber shoes. Also, the students surveyed focus more on the positive elements of a product while ignoring its disadvantages.

Lesson Learned:

Students buy shoes for a variety of reasons, all of which are related to the strong emotions that are attached to it.

In Class Prototype Activity:

As the culture in every #MACE16 class, the survey carried out was followed up with an open-ended project class prototype activity. My team started off excited and ambitious, deciding to prototype a personalised bedroom slipper. We wanted a product that can elicit useful feedback from users. As seen in the picture below:

Finally,  with the increasing complexity of business, creativity through the generation of ideas that add value is needed in order to solve business problems.


Don’t hesitate to drop any questions or feedback, see you next week!



Reference :

  1. Newell, A. and Shaw, J.C. (1972), “The process of creative thinking”, in A. Newell and H.A. Simon (eds), Human Problem Solving, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, pp. 144-174.
  2. Candy, L. (1997), “Computers and creativity support: knowledge, visualisation and collaboration”, Knowledge-Based Systems, No.10, pp. 3-13.

#MACE16: A Module Like No Other

Hi everyone, welcome to my first blog post on Design Thinking for Startups module at Kingston Business School!

My name is George Uka  and am currently studying Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship MSc at the above-mentioned institution.

My professional work experience spans years in all facets of enterprise resources planning with extensive knowledge in SAP eRP implementation processes and configuration.

My interest in the role of Information Technology in business and government establishments formed the initial core of my undergraduate education (Information Systems) at Kingston University London, but my focus on the human and creative elements in business and the underlying connections with technology led me to broaden the scope of my studies.

Things you can expect from this blog includes important information about the module and practical learning outcomes, with a few random musings thrown in there. You might even get some pictures of my attempts at being creative if you’re lucky.


 “This module aims to give students the knowledge and understanding of creative and business behaviours necessary for developing a product/service and establishing an innovative multidisciplinary business enterprise. Students will work in teams to set up a business. Business mentors will be available to coach the teams”.

Course Director Dr Janja Song  #MACE16

The module Director Dr Janja Song constantly asked students to provide our thoughts and opinions during class discussions. She encourages students to make mistakes and be wrong since a certain amount of risk-taking is inevitable with creative thinking .

The module is also about bridging the gap between Business and Creativity. Establishing a solid connection between the two industry is the ultimate aim of this module.

Reflection : 

Reflecting on my first two weeks on this module, I think the three words I would use to describe it so far would be: Intense, Engaging, and Enjoyable. I remember being asked in class if we consider ourselves creative? some students (including me) found themselves unsure if they were or not.

So then, what does it actually mean to be creative? As discussed in class, creativity is the ability to imagine or invent something new. The ability to generate new ideas by “combining, changing, or reapplying existing ideas“.

As further explained by the module Director, “there is not a single person on earth who is not a creative being. “Creativity is  the creation of noble ideas in every domain“. People are curious about a new and innovative object.

How do we influence people with an object? How do will design Technology driven products? She said, we will learn not only what it means to be creative, but how to manifest our own creativity.

Business Idea Into Prototype Within 2 Days:

My 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.

We were advised to stop wasting time on (Mr John sex orientation) but focus more on the deliverables, thereby eliminating the initial need of aiming for an absolute faultless product prototype.

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Creativity and Why is it Important?

In his TED talk video from 2006, which was played in class Ken Robinson stated, “Creativity is now as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.”

Ken Robinson reiterates all of us possess everything necessary to be more creative. The problem is we’ve been trained away from our creative instincts by schools, parents, movies and workplaces.

1st Field Work : 

After watching three insightful videos in class about  ” What Makes a House a home” we were ‘drove‘ out of the class and segmented into two various groups with the aim of going around the campus asking students about ‘What makes a house a home’?

A straw poll of students surveyed threw up similar themes: ‘it holds all my favourite things and my favourite person in one place’, ‘it’s about having cool, smooth sheets but also feeling free to make a mess’, ‘it’s the place I retreat to for peace from the frenetic, bossy outside world’, ‘it’s where I can spend the whole day in my pyjamas watching Mad Men, if I so choose’.

It seems that for most of us, creating a home is less about the building itself,  or the location and more about the emotional connection and sense of comfort we’re able to create behind closed doors.


After taking part in this class for two weeks, I now find myself asking lots of ‘Why’ questions. This course is much different from other module’s because with every lecture I feel like I have learnt something that can be applied to real life most annoying personal obstacles.

So that was a quick overview of everything up till now if you have any questions or comments feel free to post below, and I will see you in the next post!