EVENTS | IBM Design Thinking Masterclass

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IBM Design Thinking Masterclass

On September 7th, 2018, Make-IT in Africa and IBM hosted a Design Thinking Masterclass at the IBM Innovation Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

The aim of the masterclass was to formulate the use cases for the Digital 4 Agriculture Weather Weekend which took place from September 21st to September 23rd, 2018.

What is Design Thinking? 

Design Thinking is a process used in ideation and development to design concepts or ideas for products. This approach is conducted in five stages, Empathise, Define (the problem), Ideate, Prototype and Test. The IBM Design Thinking is a framework that helps solve complex problems in complex environments; it focuses everyone’s thinking on user experience and encourages cross-function collaboration and fast iteration.

Who are the personas?

Silas Macharia, IBM Innovation Centre Leader East Africa took the attendees through the first three stages. The attendants comprised of start-ups, some in the Make-IT accelerator program such as Annona and Taimba as well as some new additions such as Astral-Aerial and Tungana Tech.

They worked on each stage by formulating ideas for 6 personas (ie. possible users of their ideas). As the masterclass was geared towards preparation for the Digital 4 Agriculture Weather Weekend, the personas worked on were all members and contributors of the agriculture value chain.

The personas included Maina the Agrovet, Njeri the Small-scale farmer, Kipkirui the Farm Advisor, Mama Odhis the Market Provider, Sam the Aggregator and Wanjiku the Consumer.

For each persona, attendees were divided into groups of 2-3 people and worked on identifying who their person is, if they have families, the struggles they face and what solutions they would benefit from.

Empathy Mapping. Defining the Problem and Ideation 

The first stage which is the Empathy Mapping stage, involved creating an As-Is-Scenario meaning formulating a list of what each persona does on a day to day basis. For example, for Maina the Agrovet, attendees listed that his normal day includes inventory management, ensuring deliveries are made and customer care. Following this, the attendees came up with goals, opportunities, pain points and a needs statement for each persona. This transitioned into the second stage, where attendants defined the problems faced by each persona.

The attendees were very engaged and created practical and useful ideas for their personas. The third stage worked on ie. the Ideation stage, involved the attendees using their empathy maps to create ideas for each persona. Some interesting ideas formulated were; drones with cameras for farmers to take photos of farm produce to confirm yield and quality, an app for both farmers and advisors that can predict weather over a long period and suggest what crops to plant and a scanning app for consumers that determines and verifies the source of products and if they are contaminated.

This masterclass was a great introduction to design thinking for most of the attendants and provided a perfect stepping stone for the Weather Weekend.

Photos taken by IBM Team

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