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Design Thinking, Women in technology at Tech-ed BLR 2011 – a participant’s view

I happened to attend workshop on Design Thinking combined with Role of women in technology at tech-ed BLR 2011.This initiative has been gaining momentum vociferously and I expect some practical impacts if not sooner, later.

I reached the venue a little late and could see Jeanne Carboni briefing the crowd about the initiative of 7billionsOrg. She did show us the site wherein we could share our stories/ ideas and likewise. Facebook has greatly impacted any formal/informal networking site.  Room was fully occupied with participants. It was then handed over to Lucky (I don’t remember his formal name, sorry). It’s him in the picture below:


He had great patience to handle crowd while talking about versatile and debatable topics. He talked about ‘DESIRABILITY’ and ‘PASSSION’ as two main igniting factors to get exceptional/out of box results. He quoted few practical examples wherein new ideas were successfully implemented as they were backed by passion. He emphasized on Power of Desire stating if one has a burning desire to accomplish a goal, financial or any other factor would not hinder. ‘Where there is a will there is a way’. I could not oppose as we have the very example of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook.

He also talked about ‘CUSTOMER CENTRICITY’ being the mantra for today’s world. This word is too sensitive and complex to understand in its entirety. (At least for me)In order to explain the point he had beautiful slides as well. There was one slide wherein he explained the process to gain customer insights as:


I could correlate these phases with Waterfall life cycle model learnt way back in my engineering. There was a question asked on this particular slide which got diversified to so many directions that I lost track of original question. However, I was stuck in the portion, that we Observe and understand and the two phases should at least be overlapped /together. If someone reading this blog has an answer please comment as to why is Observe after Understand?

My takeaway from design thinking would be:  Help people with simple implementable/pragmatic ideas to make their day to day life easier (in a nutshell). In a broader perspective it has no boundaries.

Gradually the session moved on to some hands-on session (let me magnify it this ways). Participants were requested to prototype their ideas. This was little difficult for me to understand initially as we prototype a working model of a requirement. What would we prototype here?  Participants were divided into groups each containing members not much familiar with each other. We were asked to select any one from four given topics out of which I remember

1.      How social networking can help organisation in critical times?

2.      Gender Diversity

To my great surprise I had one colleague and an ex-colleague in the same team. Yeah! The name of the team was HUM PANCH + 1. 


(L to R: Ajay, Sunil, Sudipta, Kumud, Jyothi, Ipsita)

It was a very good combination of people. One manager, one lead and then team members. (Guess who was who from above picture.)The topic chosen was ‘Gender Diversity’ emphasizing on equal opportunities/trust/respect at work being given to people irrespective of them being men/women.

How do we start?  Well we decided each one of us would write topics of discussion on our own and common topics would be discussed.  Well I highlighted topics like

a)      Motivation at work

b)      Mental block – Women not as “responsible” as their male counterparts.

c)       Turtles in turtles – Exposing work the right way

My team member decided their topics as well. Finally we jotted down our points on dashboard and then a voting system decided the two topics to be finalized. It looked somewhat like this:


So the topics chosen were: Mental Block and Team Building Activites.

So now you would have to accept that there is a mental block prevailing in our industry. Somehow each one of us (ladies) in the team had a strong argument supporting the same. There were instances wherein discussions turned little hot but then we just calmed us down saying we might not reach to a solution right away. There was somehow a question as to which role in an organisation would suit for women and not for men and vice-versa. I can never have the answer for this question. Likewise topics like Motivation, generic methods might not be very effective for all individuals.

Now we had to prototype the idea. We all reached to a conclusion that we would show if everyone is treated same and is given same opportunities Progress would be faster and World would be a better place to live in.

Team at work:


We were given all possible things required for prototyping and we were successful in making a prototype of idea that ‘WHEN EVERONE IS HAPPY GLOBE IS UP’ whereas not the same when People are not happy together. We were asked to write down expectations from the workshop and I wrote “Seeing practical impacts sometime in the future”.

Few Chirpy moments:

Got to meet lot of new people like Abhishek Pattanaik, Ram, Abesh, Krishnamoorthy P, few other members. 


And then. ..We had a moderator there as well:


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  • Kumud,
    Thank you so much for taking your time in writing this blog and bringing it across the community.
    Adding few points to this blog: Designing thinking was a fantastic forum for the women employees! It completely talks about Women in technology.
    Here are the amazing topics on which workshop moved on
    1)How might we increase women’s contribution in software projects like ¡¥Technology to Enhance Education’ that supports the Millennium development goals?
    2)How might we increase women’s contribution in software projects like ‘Technology to provide access to better health services’ that supports the Millennium development goals
    3)How might we benefit from gender differences as a business advantage in software development and collaboration(the role of women in development)
    4)How might we use social media to improve organizational change management during challenging times?
    Everyone has individual opinions (mixed)

    Insights: Why and what are the reasons behind ¡¥women in technology is lagging behind¡¦(which covers all the above four topics)

    Personas: What to be done (Solutions) to make women in technology to overcome the obstacles and reach the apexļ..
    Totally it was an amazing experience in participating this electrifying and energetic workshop, Thanks to Marilyn, Jeanna , Lucky(Lakshman)for coming forward with such a great event at SAPTecEd , B¡¦lore.
    Also thanks to Jim and fellow mentors/moderators for adding a spark to this event.

    • And it would be interesting to hear the answers – I know no real answers just the beginning to 1 – 4.  Did you attend Jyothi?  I would love to see another blog.  This topic is VERY important to me.   It is something I think we all can learn from.

      It would be interesting to continue hearing the thoughts from different countries on the same topic!


      • Yes Michelle, I’m fortunate enough to attend this session! and the topic we chose was 3rd one, Myself, Kumud and others(you can see our team(Hum panch+1) in the pic).. this blog talks about what we did on this topic in was really fasinating..

        I would love to write another blog of my experience..


      • yes Michelle, I’ve got chance(fortunate enough) to attend this workshop! we(our team Hum panch+1 .. you can see the pic in this blog) chose 3rd topic and moved on.. Kumud covered almost all topics which we did in that workshop..

        I would love to write another blog with my own experiences..


        • YES!  I would love to read another blog.  This topic really is very important.  I think it highlights a real problem. 

          So I love to hear others thoughts, suggestions, or reflections from the event.


  • I know we started with women in the workplace but our ideas, thoughts, could also be diversity.  What about different ideas like the American, German, French (whatever) in your workplace.  Is it diverse?  What perspective do they bring?  Starting with women in the workplace is a great idea because it spans so many countries.

    I think we’ll have to follow through somehow.  It should be interesting.  Marilyn and crew have been travelling all over.  I am sure they need some rest time.

    Maybe it is something we can get started – continue with via a WIKI.  Then find out what they have planned.  I am sure they have something!

    Thank you for taking the time to write this blog!  I love the pictures.


    • Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for the comment.
      Glad you liked it.
      Certainly people’s thought process at work differs.But it would be difficult to comment on anyone’s perspective as it varies from person to person.

      It would be great if we can track the progress of these innovative ideas.


    • Hello Michelle,
      I am one of the organisers. We had earlier thought of keeping diversity as theme, but it is a too broad topic, it could mean gender, age, country, locale, language ….several things. So we thought of keeping the theme as “women in technology”.
      Your suggestion is good, to keep following up on this topic. Thanks.
      • Priyanka,

        Well that makes total sense to me.  It is too broad.  The diversity theme really stayed women in technology in our team in LV.  Actually everything we came up with could be applied to either situation.  That is an interesting thought as we only focused on women.

        Of course, the women in technology is near and dear to me.  So I am glad that theme continued.

        Any thoughts to follow up on the topic?  I know probably another blog and a link to a WIKI.  Then possibly an activity in SAP Streamwork?  I was not part of the organization of the event so they probably have ideas about how to move this forward.  So I’ll wait a while.

        Thank you for organizing a wonderful event!  You can hear how great it was just from Kumud’s words.


  • Hello Kumud

    I support the idea of equal treatment. I registered to do this workshop in Madrid next week and I’m looking forward to it very much.

    Looks like you had a great time as well and learned something in the progress.

    Kind regards


    • Hello Tom,

      Thanks for the comment.
      Nice choice! You would have a great learning in this workshop, I am sure.Keep us posted on your experience as well.
      I have escaped minute details of the event though in my blog.


  • Hi Kumud,
    thank you very much for sharing your experience in this event. I will attend it in Madrid and it was really nice to get a participant’s view.
    I am a “woman in technology”, and also have been reading about “Design Thinking and Innovation” (here in Brazil we have Schools giving Design Thinking courses and many companies presenting workshops on it), so I am very excited to participate in this workshop. I’m sure I will learn a lot and exchange experiences.

    Kind regards,

    • Hi Raquel,
      Thanks for the comment.
      Great that you have courses out there for Design Thinking. How far is it implemented?
      Now I would try finding out if I get something similar in my place.There are many courses but have not found out if something exactly similar  exists here as well.Also,your comment gives an idea that these movements can be initiated from our organisations first(if not yet) and then taken further.Yeah!
      Looking forward to read your experiece after tech-ed Madrid.


  • The design thinking facilitator who Heike introduced me to was indeed inspirational. His name is Lakshman Pachineela Seshadri and has worked with and inspired many consultants internally in SAP.

    I’m still processing the pictures and clips to add.
    Having participants comment is really the best way of learning what the impact was for those attending. Please help encourage more dialogue and summary posts.  Thanks for doing this Kumud!

    • Hi Marilynn,
      Thanks for letting everyone know the actual name.I was little reluctant while writing about him not knowing his actual name and hence inserted his pic.
      I am eagerly waiting for your blog as it would have a different/wide/versatile perspective altogether with many more pics and videos to add.
      I guess Michelle is already and always encourages people for taking that extra step.However I have asked members I know, to add their opinion.


      • Hi Kumud,

        HA!  And you think I know everyone to ask to blog about this?  I wish I did.  I’m glad you are encouraging others as well.  I hope everyone writes a quick blog.

        For those of you thinking, I can’t do this.  It is too hard.  No one will want to read about my experience.  I have no idea how to start.

        I will read your blog as well as many, many, others.  Did I scare you?  I hope not.  If you touch just one person, the blog is worth writing.    I’ll add some links on how to start just in case you missed them.  But really all you need to do is have an open window much like Word.  Sit down and write.  Then spell check.  Headings, pictures, different font, who cares?  It is your first blog.  Just make sure the spelling is correct.  So think about it!

        As usual my reply could be another blog.  Have fun.  I know I do when I blog / comment. 

        Thank you – for the kind words – Kumud,


        Here’s some links:

        How to Contribute

        Get Started:

        How to blog – FAQ:

  • Hi Kumud, thanks so much for sharing your reflections of the Bangalore event. 

    I will try to answer your question “why Observe after Understand?” Very good question and I agree just by hearing the words it does not makes sense. A couple things to be kept in mind. The DT approach is highly iterative and there is a lot of going back and forth between the phases. Therefore it is actually different from the traditional waterfall model. When saying first observe and then understand it is in the context of first understanding the ask, the question and then go and observe, do field research around that question to better understand, hence an arrow going back to understand in the graph. It is truly about capturing data points to understand, building up knowledge before jumping to any conclusion or solution.

    I realize there are a number of graphs and a lot of sometimes intimidating terminologies circling around when it comes to Design Thinking. There is not right or wrong, and DT is definitely not about one single right answer. DT assumes every situation can be improved, addressing them with an open mind, accepting not knowing the answers but respecting and striving for mutiple perspectives to better understand, there are always multiple choices before creating the optimal solution.  I hope I am not adding any confusion. Makes sense?

    I’ll link you blog to the upcoming Madrid event. Very much looking forward to see more blogs and reflections on the topic of inclusion and design thinking.


    • Hi Heike,
      Finally I did get a beautiful explanation,read twice to understand the deep meaning and finally am very happy to accept it.But somehow I have a gut feeling that although we do not see any immediate solution to the issues highlighted, they would be addressed sometime in the future with Design Thinking approach.
      It would be great to read your Madrid experience.Please try taking it a step further from Bangalore.(if possible).

      Thanks again,

      • Hi Kumud,

        I read your blog just now and thanks for your nice words.  Glad to know that you had a wonderful experience and the workshop has been useful. 

        I like to answer your query.  ‘why observation after understanding’ – let me give an example of you are planning to go for a holiday.  You would initially like to understand about the place and its surroundings.  For this you may get information from friends or internet search or etc. (For some topics you may need some experts to advise too) Based on your understanding, you would plan your approach and activities during your stay. You would also have a plan B in case plan A does not succeed. Your Plan A or B will have ‘observation’ related activities, in which the findings can either reinforce your understanding or provides you new insights for exploring further.  Like Heike said, this can be iterative depending on how good the research has been? Understanding and Observation is not linear in that sense, but would be nice in terms of planning and executing a project, which we are used to. 

        Guess, this answers your query.

        Thanks and bets regards,
        Lucky (Lakshman)

        Hope this

        • Hi Lucky,
          Very happy to know that you read this.
          Certainly workshop has been useful.
          Thanks for answering the question.I would have asked it there but there were already lot of interventions and hence did not.


        • Hi Lucky,
          Happy to know that you read this blog.
          Thanks for answering the question.I would have asked it on-spot had there been not so many interventions already.