Design the Thinking - Dr. Anbu Rathinavel

Design the Thinking - Dr. Anbu Rathinavel

24, March 2021

Why do a few leading companies continue to produce a turnover that is even higher than the GDP of some countries? Two principles-- they make such marvels possible or picking innovation as a way of life and targeting a global market.

"Don’t look for customers for your products, look for products for your customers," says Dr. Anbu Rathinavel, the Head of School of Design Thinking as well as the Chief Design Officer of Intellect Design Arena Ltd. – a FinTech company based out of Chennai. Dr. Anbu has decades of experience across different domains ranging from Academics, Learning & Development, Design Thinking, Coaching, and Mentoring. He is a leadership coach for industry stalwarts through his association with ISB Hyderabad. Also, he is a member of the board of studies of institutes such as SRM, SSN, NIET, etc. Previously, he was associated with Anna University, Standard Chartered Bank and he headed the Corporate Learning University – Nalanda at Polaris Software Labs. He has worked on a strategic defense project for United States security as well and has a Doctorate in the field of Artificial Intelligence.

Narrating the inspiration of starting Intellect Design Arena Ltd. and the School of Design Thinking mentions that companies like Telsa and Google always stay with an innovation mindset. They believe that designers must, “Fail fast, fail often, but fail they should and keep moving on”. These companies focus on a global target audience. This audience might not always express their problems hence, designers must take care of the unspoken issues.

A good example of such unspoken inconvenience can be in the fashion industry where designers generally design from their perspective ignoring the customers’ comfort. As it happened with a toothbrush for kids which was initially designed for grownups. They just reduced the toothbrush in scale to make it for kids who ended up getting severely hurt by it. A careful analysis led to the conclusion that due to the different grips among kids and adults this problem arose. Addressing such issues, he talked about the hygiene factor of design thinking which includes, listening beyond words that too without any filter, initiating dialogue over the debate, and an empathetic observation.

"Debate tells who is right but dialogue tells what is right, and that what is more important in design thinking," says Dr. Anbu Ratinavel.

These attributes can shape a great design that will have elements like simplicity, observations of experience, frictionless process, efficiency, complexity reduction, and most importantly it should question an assumption. There are several examples of great designs which questioned assumptions to create disruptive solutions like Café Coffee Day’s question about a Café being limited to coffee. They in turn expanded it to a place to socialize longer with its on-point idea, a lot can happen over a cup of coffee. Aravind Eye Hospital established mobile eye care hospitals to eliminate needless blindness. Paying for a car in installments instead of a lump sum amount gave people the flexibility to buy. All these were incredible disruptive solutions because these questioned some assumptions which were purely being carried by convention.

Designs must be desirable, viable, and feasible. For instance, solar panels for energy generation are both desirable and feasible yet not completely viable because it is yet not being thought through with the consumer’s lens. He used the underlying principle to define design thinking in three chunks, understanding the unstated requirements, observing patterns and anti-patterns, and ultimately connecting the dots within the field or outside the field of the product to question as many assumptions as possible. Design is a vast stream, where a student get options in product design, transportation design, UI UX design, and fashion design, there are Top Product Design College in Madhya Pradesh which provides these courses with practical learning and internship opportunities.

Hence the differentiator between traditional thinking and design thinking is that traditionally one gives the right answers, deals with just symptoms, talks more, and judges the situation based on just data while in design thinking, one asks the right questions, deals with root problems and listens more to know the stories.

"Talk about facts is traditional thinking but talk about feelings is design thinking," says Dr. Anbu Rathinavel

Through several examples like Gillette, iPhone, and many more, he suggests starting with data and ending with design thinking by developing on future requirements of consumers and not just focussing on the product. Observe to the fullest to pose relevant questions to assumptions to build great designs.

Written by,

Anvesha Dubey


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