D.Bootcamp at the D.School at Stanford University

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A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to attend D.Bootcamp, an executive education training bootcamp about the design thinking process to learn methodologies to apply to one’s own organization. It was an amazing experience to say the least despite having a formal degree in design as it introduced me to more informal methodologies as well as taught me more about my practice as a designer.

Day 1 of d.bootcamp #designthinking #gelife

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Day 2 of d.bootcamp #pursuingthreads #sanfrancisco A photo posted by Vinita Israni (@vinnyteee) on

Day 3 of d.bootcamp #prototyping #quickanddirty

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Day 4 of d.bootcamp #partnerincrime #bittersweetfeeling A photo posted by Vinita Israni (@vinnyteee) on

The first day consisted of doing an abbreviated version of the design process with the prompt of exploring someone’s wallet. We got a chance to interview the other participants and prototype to get our hands wet with what we were going to experience in the next couple days. I actually happened to pair up with a wonderful woman from the Northwestern MBA Design program (which I had gotten a chance to visit earlier this year) which was exciting! There were also alumnni talks sprinkled through the bootcamp, the first of which was actually from GE Healthcare! Doug Dietz talked about how he and his team worked on transforming MRI rooms for children so they would not have to be sedated while getting scans.

On the second day we actually got our prompt for the bootcamp, which was sponsored by Capital One. Thus, we got a chance to actually interview people outside of the Capital One headquarters in San Francisco as well as a chance to work in their amazing space. We were assigned groups along with coaches (I had 2 wonderful ones) to carry out the prompt over the remaining 3 days. It was awesome to do some guerilla interviewing! Also just the fact that we were in San Francisco made our experiences so much richer due to the wide variety of people there. We met a consultant at Udemy (who invited us in – such a cool workspace!) and an attendee of Dreamforce (which was going on that week and was taking over the city).

Prototyping and refining ideas was the focus of the third day, as we went into downtown Palo Alto and pulled people aside to test our creations.

The last day we attempted storytelling by explaining our final creation to each other using scenes, props, and roles. Brandon from Adapative Path (/ Capital One) and a representative from Jet Blue were there to give us comments on our final presentations as well. We spent the rest of the day working on our own respective projects (for which we had all done pre-work prior to coming to the d.school) as well as getting a chance to run our own “mini design bootcamp”.

The d.bootcamp was easily one of the best facilitated sessions I’ve attended. All of the coaches were energetic, engaging, and responsive. It was wonderful. Jeremy (go Texas!) and Perry specifically did a great job leading us through the exercises and always showcasing what we were about to do by modeling it themselves. I would love to teach at the d.school as a teaching fellow or facilitator. Oddly enough, I think it brought my thesis back full circle since I worked on coming up with methodologies to empower designers.

For my own personal design practice, it was a good exercise in taking a step back and “getting off my high horse”. Despite being at GE for the last 3 months, I have definitely felt like the process thinking that was so engrained in me through grad school is slowly slipping (although obviously it’s always with you). I definitely struggled to come up with ideas on Day 1 while brainstorming and I realized that I actually end up supporting all the other threads of ideas instead of actually going deep into the one that I’m interested in. This also inherently puts me in a documentarian role as I try to make sure nothing slips through the cracks. I also have a tendency to overstep roles unless they are clearly defined and still struggle to find the balance between leading, guiding, and teaching. The concept of synthesizer vs. generator  also came up. Although I generally identify as a synthesizer (and everybody is a little bit of both), the bootcamp made me think that I become a generator in group settings. I also struggle to pull teams out of dips and get people to be present while brainstorming. The team I worked with at the d.school were more international which gave us a really large variety of perspectives but also was a challenge to keep moving forward. While we did reflections at the end of the day, the final reflections posed a question that I think designers should continually be asking themselves (and was at the heart of my thesis to some extent): What were the behaviors that help get you through the creative / design process?

© 2015 Tania Anaisse and Stanford D.School

In an effort to summarize everything we had learned (it was so fast paced), I created a sketchnotes version of the 4 days to better recap everything we had done and document all the methods used.

Of course, being in Palo Alto and on Stanford’s campus was an added bonus (although I still think Rice’s campus is better :P).

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