Launch: Design Thinking to develop a Business

7 months after the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan (China) and the stunned stare in shock of the lockdown, the world has changed. The whole world, even the small island of St. Lucia in the West Indies. And even if we wished that everything would be over soon it was crystal clear that nothing would ever be the same again. All the physical meetings, the trainings and workshops as we knew them are over, at least for the next years. But people starting a business who want to realize their dreams of independence and self-determination can’t wait another couple of years. They need support in improving their businesses, now and continuously.
In 2019 idee&form created a workshop concept based on Design Thinking to support people in developing innovative and sustainable business ideas. Since Design Thinking is a customer-centric, innovative and iterative concept, it seemed perfectly suited to the purpose of creating micro- and small businesses in an emerging country.

One of the core elements of the workshop is the newly drafted Playbook with suitable exercises, informative background and useful brain-hacks to facilitate and document the entire Design Thinking Cycle with all outcomes that make the key principles of Design Thinking like iteration, tangible.

Those who are at least partially familiar with Design Thinking know that Design Thinking is teamwork and those can imagine how difficult it was after realizing that the new normal will be online, to translate that Design Thinking for Business concept into a single-user online version. In our highly developed world with high-speed internet and interactive whiteboard meetings, with 3D cameras and much more technical gimmickry, online group events naturally feel like onsite teamwork. This is not the standard of infrastructure in St. Lucia, and MSM-Entrepreneurs are usually not equipped for such a high-tech event. Reduced to basic zoom meetings, this very Playbook was used in an editable version to realize the first Design Thinking online workshop in St. Lucia the last 9 days of July.

During these 9 mornings we met 8 entrepreneurs virtually. We started the Design Thinking Cycle with the Design Challenge and delved deeper than usual into the problem customers have before they come to our entrepreneurs to find an adequate product or service.

After sharpening the entrepreneur’s understanding and spending time observing future customers, they used creativity techniques to enrich their businesses with a range of new and interesting services and products. But that was not the end of their journey. The following days were dedicated to develop unique selling propositions. As a first type of prototyping they used the Lean Canvas as an overview, what is an excellent tool to learn more about a company and to find the problematic gaps in the business model. After the whole business model had been improved, the entrepreneurs thought about how to tell a convincing story to interested people and customers that emphasizes their unique vision and mission.

Releasing this workshop series means a lot to us and we look forward to introduce them to other countries outside the Eastern Caribbean.



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