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Building knowledge sustainably – Train the Trainer @ Impact Week

Wow – two weeks before the event, all tickets for Impact Week 2016 have been sold out! We're happy to see students in Kenya being enthusiastic about innovation and design thinking.

As excited as all of us are to be here – for many of us, it's the first time in Africa, and we're truly overwhelmed by the warm welcome we have received – asante sana! – we want Impact Week to be about people in Kenya, and not about us. To make more Impact Weeks with local ownership possible, we are passing on the knowledge on how to instruct students in the use of the design thinking methodology. Therefore we are offering a two-day train the trainer workshop at ANU. 20 enthusiastic ANU staff are joining us this weekend for in-depth training on the steps of the design thinking process, on coaching skils, and last but not least for lots of fun.

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On the first day, the workshop focused on problems and users. What are the problems which new solutions should solve? Understanding them are key to success. Unless a solution alleviates a real pain point, it will not find acceptance in the market. This is where users come into play. Often new products are designed on the drawing board and do not come into contact with the users until they are launched. But how will you know what a product should be like, what it should do without asking the people who will actually be using it? Under the guidance of our Impact Week coaches, the ANU soon-to-be coaches learned to conduct interviews to find out what people want – a great exercise for interrogating assumptions, learning new perspectives, and ultimately strengthen bonds with others.

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True to the design thinking methods, the teams used up prodigious amounts of post-its to visualize ideas, playfully built teamwork skills, and came up with great ideas on how to improve education in Africa. The first day ended with a round of feedback from all participants on what they liked about the workshop, what they would like to see on day two and how they plan on achieving that. It was a demanding, but fun day for everyone.

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The second workshop day was about turning the ideas from day 1 into workable solutions. Most solutions aren't meant for everyone, but target specific user groups. If you are building an app for the elderly, large, easily readable fonts will be more important than fancy graphics, and if you are designing a service for high school students, usage will spike in the afternoon. Visualizing facts about your target user group is key to defining the most important features of a solution, which is why mapping out the user persona is also an important step in design thinking.

Once you have settled on what your solution will do, it's time for prototyping – no idea will really gain traction if you can't see it, feel it, play with it. But don't be scared – a prototype doesn't have to be fancy, it doesn't have to look perfect. Instead, it helps visualize things using very simple methods like paper and glue, and as a result, possibilities and limitations will become more discernible. But see for yourself:

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The workshop culminated in the teams presenting their ideas and their prototypes. There were some amazing performances! Kudos to teams education, security, healthcare and cosmetics in particular! We are impressed by what the local coaches have achieved in just two days. Some of them will be putting their newly acquired skills as design thinking facilitators into practice right away, at Impact Week 2016. A special thanks for everyone who gave moderator Jochen, who had his birthday on the first day of the workshop, such an impressive and heartfelt blessing!