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The Sky is not the Limit

A Reflection on Design Thinking

Louise Owen

on 27 August 2013

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Transcript of The Sky is not the Limit

The Sky is Not the Limit
ear Me,

What on earth do you think you are doing?

Surely you have learnt by now that this is very unwise.

Enrolling on an online course just as the Summer Holidays are starting - don't you realise just how many other more important commitments you have - to your family, your friends, your poor old Mother? Have you seen the state of the loft and the cellar? You've procrastinated decluttering all year with this time ear-marked for all sorts of useful chores.

Tomorrow you're off with your band and your son, (remember him?) playing in a festival all weekend - the
following week you're helping run a Woodcraft Folk camp - then of course there's people to visit ... and
you never know when your poor old Mother's house sale will go through. Are you perhaps in denial
about the extent of the work and stress this will entail? Plus, shouldn't the summer be the time to
prepare for all next year's work?

Remember what it's like? - the obsessive white heat of creativity and the burning need to
contact team members you've never even met at all hours because you've thought of
yet another ridiculous solution to a frankly implausible problem? The unearthing
of old creative skills that were rusting away though lack of use but somehow
returned with added maturity and sureness of touch? You wrote a song, you
drew (and painted) cartoons, you made videos, you learnt how to do geeky
techie computery communicatey things that even impressed your 19 yr-old!
Remember the thrill of submitting a project knowing it's too late to make it
any better? The warm glow of appreciation when people actually like
your work, make nice comments, give you thumbs up? The way you
connected with fantastic people globally by reading and learning vast
amounts from their own work and perspectives?

Surely your doing those Creativity Crash Courses was enough and
now you can just settle back to your normal duties and stop
having silly ideas about changing the world?

You know this is for your own good and I love and care
for you and want to protect you.

Your only true friend,


PS but really - Well done, I'm really proud
of you and your priorities :D This course is
just the thing for you. You'll make a diff
erence to other peoples' lives by following
your inspiration. You can show them
how to see things differently.
Go ahead ...
Dear me,

Thank you for your letter of 6
weeks ago.

What has happened to you since you
started this course? There you were,
all full of creative, shiny, arty,
crafted, diligent assignments -
and here you are now, sur-
rounded by bits of paper
and junk and scrawled
notes and about to
submit THIS scruffy
prototype, all
gung-ho about
failure and

I'll have
to adjust.

L x

Here's what I wrote in July ...
or find it here:
My reply, today ....
Yes, this is it, folks!!
My final submission!
My Process Map ... but not necessarily in this order ....
... fortunately the
purple scraps are
A somewhat circular,
spiraling path ...
and 3 take -
It all started off OK ...

Here's a link to a prezi
exploration of the Process
Map I made - somehow
the steps are as I'd
envisaged, but I'd
never have
anticipated the
involvement that interviewing and empathising gives you.


Here's a link to another prezi which shows my empathy map - I'll be using this template
again and again!
or see it here ...

It helped me identify my stakeholder
and define a need that I could attempt
to find a solution for. Knowing
the end user's point of view
My most burning issue now needs addressing using Design Thinking skills.
Here's how I presented it to my most wonderful, supportive and loyal Team,
Sail the 7Cs:

The real problem in my life right now: MOVING MOTHER.

We've done all the brainstorming about where to, and the new place is chosen, signed for, ready to move her into. We've started to deal with her Stuff - it's so difficult to part with or re-allocate. In the next few weeks contracts will be exchanged, completion dates agreed, removal van booked, and a whole load of Stuff will have been somehow redistributed. But how??!! And then of course, she will need so much help to settle into her new abode - setting up a network of support for her, assessing how well she will actually be able to manage on her own still. Also how to readjust my own life with an elderly parent suddenly living nearby, just as 2 kids are off to University and the other starts Secondary school shortly, and my payroll workload hasn't changed. Personally, I would have preferred a more relevant assignment to work on for this course and am wondering how to apply the Design Thinking Skills to this imminent calamitous upheaval!
My Teamies provided some wonderful feedback, empathy, sympathy and suggestions.

I made a list of open-ended questions - all 5 of us (my family) were together in a caravan in Cornwall and I told them we were going to have a "Short Interview" about Granny.
Such a special family moment ensued - I read out the questions, waited and wrote whatever was said. Sitting back and letting them speak for themselves - a good lesson for a mother and partner. It lasted 20 minutes. Here are the results.

Starting Small ...
So ... what next ...? I have started a blog entitled "Moving Mother" to keep focused on making this difficult time as easy as possible. But when she arrives in town, that's when the trouble will start! - so I'll need the Blog for brainstorming, recording interviews (everyone has an opinion on this one!) ideating, prototyping, finding the lessons in the many failures and heartaches that are bound to follow, and sharing any successes and brainwaves that result.


How wonderful if this process will bring about some great Design Thinking achievements, but also, how wonderful to have a framework to resort to in times of despair, difficulty and miscommunication ...

Knowing and experiencing a sure-fire way of confidently tackling the seemingly impossible using creativity, imagination, empathy, permission to fail and fail again, and a healthy dose of humour - this will see us all through the challenges to come!
Thank you so much, Leticia and Team, for your insights, encouragement and inspiration!
I worked hard at getting the
next assignment looking good ...
My prototypes had some care,
attention and were well-tested ...
... but this time I took the "rough pretotype" advice literally.
Hope you appreciate it!

Scribbles in the Sky by Louise Owen
music credits: Flying by Nice Little Penguins
Full transcript