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On Tuesday, November 14, we of Strategy class of KMD, were given opportunity to visit IBM Design studio to participate in the IBM Design Thinking workshop. People at IBM were so kind as to plan in advance the topic, steps of field work for the teams etc. I followed their guideline and announced the process  to my students. The topic we chose was “Make Tokyo Lovable” and selected four groups of users.

Four user groups were 1. tourists from abroad 2 residents from abroad 3. children in poverty (Japanese)  and 4. seniors(Japanese).
I was successful to recruit members for each group and they were ready to start the field work. (We had about 2 weeks for preparation.) Then  one student asked me in class, “How do we communicate with people in groups 3 and 4 as we have no common language. ?” i.e. students do not speak Japanese and we assumed that children in poverty and seniors do not speak in English.

I completely forgot about the language barrier and had to think of some creative approach for the two teams to have opportunities to observe, hear about their user groups.  I quickly thought of my friends and my network to find the potential interviewees. Thanks to the help of my friends and IBM people, we were able to arrange in such a way that students could find out more about the status of the children in poverty and seniors.

The workshop itself was a lot of fun. Kudo san of IBM welcomed us at the beginning, and Nagao san explained the steps to follow. There were many steps to follow and students were quite busy doing a variety of things. Several IBM people were helping students of each team, facilitating the discussion, answering questions etc. (I was just having fun watching!)

I know from my experience of leading the discussion and spending time with this class that they would get engaged actively from the beginning. I was RIGHT!
They were so engaged from the beginning and brainstorming within the group to move through the process. (I hear this type of workshop is usually done in 2 days as minimum, and NOT 3 hours, so we had express version!)

At the end, each team presented their best idea of solutions and we (IBM people and I) voted. The team which received most votes was 3. children in poverty group. This group did skit showing their idea, which was very well done. (I hear the votes were quite close and I agree. They were all good in different ways.)

It was such productive and fun workshop for 3.5 hours and we are so grateful to the IBM people who made it happen. Here is a short video to show the activities. Enjoy!


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