A cohort from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) attended our Design Thinking Innovation Ambassador (DTIA) programme to bring back new tools and discover new ways for propelling creative thinking and problem solving within the organisation.
The cohort noted that while creativity and out of the box thinking was required out of them, they did not have a good way of meeting this demand. Ever so often the ideas that were presented weren’t as game changing or “out of the box” as it was hoped to be.
The strategic planning team who were part of the participating cohort took to empathetically engaging MITIans from various parts of the organisation. Empathising with fellow MITIans led them to a critical finding: Coming from a large organisation, MITI officers do not necessarily recognise each other, leading to a sense of disconnect with the organisation at large. This disconnect had also led to some officers feeling unimportant and unrecognised because their work was only acknowledged by a handful of people. Extending from this finding was the fact that MITI officers have a lot to offer their organisation but do not know where to start, what more having the courage to champion it.
To build and increase organisational engagement, the team started out with a prototype of an open feedback sharing mechanism. It is essentially a moving board with staff pictures where colleagues can send motivational messages or feedback to each other. The mechanism also serves to acknowledge the work done by these officers.
Another prototype in the testing phase looks at redesigning the space in MITI so that it inspires creativity. Games to spark new ways of thinking, refreshing scents to boost energy and mood, upbeat music to keep everyone spritely, coupled with a dedicated wall to share new ideas and thoughts. The idea is to create sensory experiences that stimulate imaginative ideas.
Ever since the first cohort, more MITI officers have been sent for our DTIA programme. Some members of the strategic planning team have even returned to Genovasi d.school in order to deepen their Design Thinking skills and develop their peers.
The work of the team is an active work in progress, but is already impressing the Secretary General and Assistant Secretary General of MITI so much so that designated time allocation for Design Thinking work has been authorised: Every Friday for 2.5 hours and for Genovasi d.school’s MITI alumni to be part of a Design Thinking-dedicated team. They are known as the Geek Squad currently made up of Azlina, Asniza, Shamala, Azza, Farah Nadia, Haida, Atiqah, Marlina, Arividya, Ellyza, and Shuhairah. The Secretary General has also approved the proposal to launch Design Thinking activities within MITI.
MITI continues to be a stellar example of how a top down approach backed by the right support system is key to creating a sustainable innovation ecosystem. A critical mass of Design Thinkers within the organisation is what is needed to bring about significant transformation.