Doing Good is Good Business / Week 2 / Design Thinking Workshop
This is a response to the design thinking workshop that was conducted as part of the second class of Doing Good is Good Business. The workshop involved classmates pairing up and discussing a communication problem that they were dealing with in their lives at this moment in time. My partner talked about how he was having problems communicating with his love interest, who happens to be from a different country, and is not very fluent in English.
The problem involves two people who are from different countries, and are trying to communicate in English, which doesn’t happen to be either’s first language. Through the organized discussions during the workshop, I was able to deconstruct the problem and break it down into three parts:
1. General apprehensions towards saying something fearing a loss of words or judgement.
2. Misinterpretations because of the language barrier.
3. Not completely understanding what the other person is speaking and hesitation around asking them to repeat.
Initially, I started thinking on the lines of heavy technological interventions. First idea that struck me was using mobile device translators to make the person more relaxed to speak in their native tongue, and ensuring the other person can understand what they are saying. However while rethinking the solution, it seemed very problematic:
1. It only ensures a short-term solution. Making the communicators habituated to talking through their phones would result in a dependency on technology for even the simplest of dialogues. For a long term fix, a common language of communication is necessary.
2. Misinterpretations in the phone translators are very common.
I diverged from thinking convoluted solutions and revisited the bullet points from the problem statement. I realized that perhaps, the problem does not point towards a technological gap but towards social patterns. I came up with a simple solution that could make communication much easier without worrying about the social consequences.
The solution that I designed was four simple cards / four options in the phone keyboard. The cards are as follows:
1. Repeat – ask the person to repeat what they said.
2. Meaning – ask them to explain what they are talking about.
3. Honestly speaking – to convey what’s on your mind.
4. Got it – not really a necessary card, but can be used in continuation to either of the cards mentioned above.
The whole idea is to give new definitions to these simple questions that a person involved in a communication might want to ask but is too hesitant/apprehensive to speak out due to fear of judgement or annoying the other person. Making these questions look like a normalized option would make the communicators more comfortable with using them without thinking much.
Conclusively, I felt that this was a good exercise for studying problems and designing solutions.
Rereading, rethinking, revisiting questions and answers and most importantly, iterative feedback from the user plays a vital role during the ideation and design of a product.