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Author's profile photo Alexandra Carvalho

Role of Inclusion in Design Thinking

Role of Inclusion in Design Thinking by Alexandra Carvalho

I’ve recently come back from TechEd Las Vegas and one of the great sessions I attended was “Role of Empathy in Design Thinking” delivered by Seung Chan Lim and organised by Marilyn Pratt.

Among all sessions I attended in TechEd that was a very special one. It brought humanity to the work we do. Yes, we deliver technical solutions but we do that for people. And it’s amazing to see things from an empathy point of view.

I think we can all translate that into many things we do in our working life: eg in a business requirements’ workshop, where we interface with people and have the willingness to hear what they have to say, and ultimately deliver a technical solution to improve people’s lives.

What’s a company? It’s a conglomerate of people. That’s right – people working together and sometimes spending more time with their work colleagues than their own families.

There is another role I would like to add to Design Thinking – the role of Inclusion.

We are always interacting with people at work and we need to include people. Whether it’s a newcomer to a department, to a group, to a community – I think we need to include them, show them that we want them to be part of the team, that we care for them. And that is more than simply words said. It’s always beautiful when said and written, but much more effective when it is actually done.

The role of Inclusion is essential to our own development. Helping and nurturing people can give us enormous pleasure and happiness. And there is no better way of learning than teaching, no better way of earning than giving. When we give ourselves, when we share, when we make people feel welcome, we are including them.

Inclusion is an essential role in Design Thinking: include people in your brainstorming sessions, workshops, presentations. People need to feel they are included, they are accepted, they are part of the team!

As an SAP Mentor, I look at giving back to the community. I look at helping people in all facets of the SAP community. Actually, I have always done that – I have great pleasure in helping people, including them and seeing them flourish.

In September 2012 I was in the SAUG Summit event in Melbourne when I was approached by Rekha Patadya. She had been in Australia for 5 months and was struggling to find her first job despite her excellent technical and interpersonal skills. I said to Rekha to stay with me throughout the event and that I was going to introduce her to everyone I knew. After the event I organised a one-on-one session with her and gave her all the knowledge and tips on how to thrive in a different country and working culture.

Rekha got a job as an Enterprise Support Advisor with SAP. After that she sent me an email that I have collated below (with her authorisation to do so) and I would like to share with you how the “Role of Inclusion” can impact on people’s lives for the better.

“My first day @ work

Dear Alexandra,

Today is my first day at work and I don’t want to miss out on this moment when I can remember you and express my gratitude.

Life is going to change from now on wards. The dream which I brought here is now going to realize.

Thank you for transforming my moments of fear and doubts into trust and faith.

You have tremendous self confidence and energy. You are the woman who never quits and do what she says. You are strong and you are everything I wish to be.

I really deeply admire you and couldn’t have been more grateful for your guidance, your confidence in me, for sharing your experiences and becoming my mentor.

I feel so proud with your success in your career and now becoming SAP Mentor. You are the woman of endless possibilities and who has removed all the ceilings from her dreams.

You give me the courage and strength to dream and transform them into reality.

Today is my first day and I remember everything you have advised me so far.

I will always follow you and keep you updated with latest happening at work.

Let’s catch up soon.

Thanks a lot,


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      Author's profile photo Marilyn Pratt
      Marilyn Pratt

      Thanks for sharing with us Alexandra.  Last year we did indeed focus on the role of inclusion in design thinking but we thought of inclusion as being more inclusive and having diverse: cultures, genders, roles and ages as part of the collaboration process.

      Here is a partial list of some of what the community wrote about that event:

      Mind-changing and actionable: Embracing Inclusion - Driving Innovation Event at SAPPHIRE NOW/... mind still reverberates strongly with the Inclusion event and particularly the panel... the panel discussion of the "Embracing...

      Embracing Inclusion – Driving Innovation in Bangalore 

      Embracing Inclusion Driving Innovation in Bangalore Design Thinking Workshop... the Bangalore version of the “Embracing InclusionDriving Innovation” event.... host an interactive evening event around innovation...

      Embracing Inclusion – Driving Innovation : An Introduction 

      Embracing Inclusion Driving Innovation : An Introduction Evolving Themes... Collaboration” in the context of innovation and innovation projects.... of the business value of such inclusion of a broader...

      The Value Was in the Conversation ! Embracing Inclusion with Design Thinking – Driving Innovation 

      ... job of fully summarizing the 'Embracing Inclusion to Drive Innovation' event at SAP Tech... it done, constructing balloons and driving our model; Bala,... panel moderator and HR expert, driving...

      About 'Embracing Inclusion to Drive Innovation' 

      About 'Embracing Inclusion to Drive Innovation' As TechEd is closing... need to support Marilyn in driving this wider and deeper -... It's not just about inclusion...

      Embracing Inclusion with Design Thinking event story 

      Embracing Inclusion with Design Thinking event story Driving Innovation.... because the main topics were “inclusion” and “diversity”... hearth. inspiration embracing_...

      Embracing Inclusion with Design Thinking event story: the nicest part 

      Embracing Inclusion with Design Thinking event story Driving Innovation” event was about Design... the “diversity” or “inclusion”.... same event inspiration embracing...

      Will Being More Inclusive Drive Innovation? 

      Will Being More Inclusive Drive Innovation? The “Embracing InclusionDriving Innovation (with Design Thinking)... complex as Women in Technology, Inclusion, and Design Thinking...

      Why do we need a session on inclusion? What does it mean? 

      ... do we need a session on inclusion? Embracing Inclusion with Design Thinking – Driving Innovation Wow!... So breaking down the name “Embracing Inclusion”. Embracing Inclusion with Design Thinking – Driving...

      Inclusion Session at TechEd Madrid 2011 

      Inclusion Session at TechEd Madrid 2011 Why did I attend?... on attending the session entitled "EMBRACING INCLUSION WITH DESIGN THINKING – DRIVING INNOVATION" I mean, as...

      Author's profile photo Alexandra Carvalho
      Alexandra Carvalho
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Marilyn,

      Wow - thank you for sharing these articles with me.

      It’s amazing to see how many people are engaged in making these world - or at least the ones we can reach - a better place!

      Best regards,


      Author's profile photo Jansi Rani Murugesan
      Jansi Rani Murugesan

      Hi Alexandra,

      It was very wonderful drafting, one single example provides all words about inculsion

      yes, lot of people are there to care the world...because f them we are all still moving... 🙂

      once again thanks a lot for sharing.

      @Rekha Best wishes for your new job and wonderful career.



      Author's profile photo Alexandra Carvalho
      Alexandra Carvalho
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Jansi,

      Thank you for your comments.

      Look forward to meeting you in person 🙂

      Best regards,