Hey, there, all of my loyal readers and the others who just stumbled upon my blog, I have decided to return to blogging, but this time with a new focus. This focus reflects what I have been hacking at over the last two years as both a graduate student and as a consultant at SAP.

I am interested in Design Thinking, but more specifically, I am interested in the application of the creative collaboration process to the building of new companies. Over the coming weeks and months, I aim to dive into Vancouver’s technology start-up scene and discover who has been using Design Thinking (in any of its forms) to grow or better their business. My interest comes from seeing how useful it can be to focus a team on a single problem and then to harness the creative potential of the group (or the individuals) to find solutions.

I first witnessed how a group of business students at UBC took to the process and the mindset when I worked as a Teaching Assistant for Moura Quayle and Ron Kellett. As a new professor in the business school, Moura was looking to shake things up. She invited a colleague from the design school to join her as they paved the way with a new pilot for the undergraduate business students. Through service learning activities and many presentations, we learned just how different business students are from design students. Yet, in the end, the pilot was a huge success and became a standard course at Sauder School of Business (COMM388).

More recently, I have been practicing applying Design Thinking techniques at SAP to develop and refine new products and services. The experience working with the product teams proved to me how effective it could be—when done well—within the enterprise. Design Thinking, I believe, helps to overcome from the huge challenges to innovation that exist within the enterprise.

Of course, there is more to be done and no solution is perfect. Often, internal forces within the enterprise still retard good products before they leave the building. This realization helped to shift my focus to start-ups. Here was an ideal proving ground, I thought. Here, within these new or small firms, the process should be much effective and pure. I took heart from examples such as the design staff that Google Ventures uses to ensure that their ventures get the Design Thinking support they need.

Let the search begin. I can’t wait to discover how Design Thinking, the Lean Start-up, and the Business Model Canvas are being applied at start-ups in Vancouver. Stay tuned for more.