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How Businesses Can Determine If Design Thinking Is Right For Them

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Design thinking has become the recipe du jour for innovation.

For some, it is the route to transformative thinking and revolutionary change.

For others, it looks like chaos, where millennials plaster the walls with sticky notes and play with Nerf toys and Lego. Others see it as a fad that has failed.

Fad or not, design thinking (creative problem-solving) has been adopted by governments, tech companies, consumer goods manufacturers, health-care organizations and many others. For my book, Design Thinking at Work: How Innovative Organizations Are Embracing Design, I interviewed large organizations that have adopted design thinking.

I wanted to understand why they embarked on a design thinking program and what their experience was.

I heard the usual stories about its benefits — how its fluid, iterative approach could bring great insights and find hidden opportunities. But I also heard about real obstacles to making it work.

Organizations adopted design thinking for many reasons, not just innovation. Some programs grew out of previous initiatives that had failed; others came about as a result of senior management’s frustration that the organization was slow and bureaucratic; others to improve contact with customers, to encourage collaboration or to attract and retain talent. Some had all of these goals, and more.

Bridging the cultural gap

At one large hospital, the design team stood out starkly from the rest of the organization.

Within a culture of scientific professionalism, their casual dress contrasted with the formality of medical staff. Even their use of language was different — for the designers, the word “experiment” meant just giving something a try; for doctors, an experiment was a formal undertaking with placebo controls and fixed protocols.

These differences illustrated a cultural gap, one that could block design teams’ ability to innovate. As the lead designer told me:

“When you turn up at a clinic on a Monday morning to do an experiment, the desk staff … they’re just not going to want you near them, they don’t know why you’re there, they’re not going to really trust you.”

Pressed to show what they could do, design teams went out of their way to reach out to the rest of the organization and build legitimacy.

In many cases, this meant taking on small projects to show what they could do. However, these incremental projects could quickly become overwhelming. Said a design leader in a multinational drug company:

“The innovation team was spending a lot of time herding cats across the organization. Most of the effort was around [organizational] structure and scope of responsibility, and less about demonstrating what [design thinking] could potentially offer.”

Some organizations dealt with this by setting up independent labs, located some distance from head office. Yet there was a risk here too — such labs could become isolated from the organization, seen in one large retailer as “crazy cowboys,” rather than transformative innovators.

Some projects could never get started

Many potentially significant innovations had trouble getting off the ground because other parts of the organization were unable or unwilling to implement them.

In some ways, these findings are not surprising. Organizations are not typically set up to tolerate the fundamental questions design thinkers ask. For one Danish government lab, challenging organizational thinking was critical:

“What is the framing? What is the understanding of the problem? From where do we know this? Why do we assume that this apparently simple solution or approach will actually work for someone?”

In a culture where employees are under constant pressure to solve problems and move on, such questions can be seen as distracting or even threatening.

How to make design thinking work

It’s still possible for companies to have a successful design thinking program. They can use design thinking as a vehicle for cultural change and for creative collaboration; for either incremental or disruptive innovation.

Design thinking isn’t a cure-all for every organization, but under the right conditions, it can bring great value. Shutterstock

But businesses are unlikely to accomplish all of these at once. There are several different ways of implementing design thinking –centralized or distributed, for example – and which direction companies choose depends on their goals.

Is design thinking right for every organization?

If a company’s culture is all about efficiency, it may be a difficult fit. The iterative, messy nature of design thinking can be disruptive to an organization that relies on repeating the same process, time after time.

There are good alternatives, however, to adopting it internally — many consultancies now use design thinking for problem-solving, and many design firms offer excellent innovation services.

Incidentally, the Danish government lab shut down in May 2018. Its founders aspired to disrupt the bureaucracy, but its true impact was hard to measure.

In the end, it was replaced by an initiative focused on digital technology. Its demise was a blow to many, myself included, who believe in design thinking.

It’s not a cure-all for every organization, nor is it a dying fad; in the right conditions, it can bring great value.

But for businesses to make a success of it, they must exercise common sense by being clear about their goals and making realistic choices. This is neither a transformative nor a revolutionary concept. Sadly, such common sense in the business world is not always so common.

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Drake’s Toronto Restaurant Pick 6ix has Re-opened as a Sports Bar

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Pick 6ix Sports has officially revealed it’s new look for what was previously Pick 6ix. The restaurant, a partnership between Drake, OVO’s Chubbs Beezer and Montreal chef Antonio Park, opened last February but closed early due to flood damage that occurred in August.

Representatives announced that the entire restaurant had suffered extensive water damage, from the luxe gold and black furniture all the way to the kitchen.

The spot has remained closed since then, causing some to speculate if Pick 6ix would ever re-open. And it looks like, finally, the answer is yes. The newly-rebranded Pick 6ix Sports “will introduce a brand-new look and feel at 33 Yonge St., creating a contemporary sports bar destination in the heart of the city’s Financial District,” a release reads.


New look, new vibe, new menu… this is #Pick6ixSports. Our doors are now open! Come through after tonight’s @raptors game where the team’s official DJ @4Korners will be on deck. #toronto #the6ix #nba #Raptors pic.twitter.com/Pn1ifPIPVN— Pick 6ix Sports (@Pick6ixSports) March 22, 2019


Image result for pick 6ix sports

The new space is a little less glitzy and a little more open featuring over 38 flat screen TVs, and a major upgrade to the menu. Featuring elevated bar classics like chuck prime rib burgers and brisket nachos. However, for those who want to be a little more fancy, there’s some hidden gems. Try ceviche, vegan potstickers, jerk grilled salmon, or tuna poke bowls. Okay Drake, we see you.

Perfect spot to catch all the action from the Raptors and Leaf’s playoff games? Could be. After each Raptors playoff game, the team’s official DJ @4Korners will be hitting the turn tables.

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Regulations needed after cryptocurrency CEO takes passwords to his grave

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File 20190228 106347 da6xfg.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Canadian CEO Gerald Cotten died in December, taking to his grave the passwords to unlock his cryptocurrency clients’ millions. Dmitry Moraine/Unsplash

Lisa Kramer, University of Toronto

A high-stakes legal drama featuring cryptocurrencies has been unfolding in a Canadian court recently.

The antics that led to the litigation almost defy credulity, and they highlight the need for new regulations to better suit a financial marketplace that includes virtual currencies.

News broke in early February that Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX was seeking creditor protection, leaving in financial limbo about 115,000 people who had entrusted the firm to maintain their deposits of cash, Bitcoins and other digital tokens worth an estimated C$250 million.

The company’s need for bankruptcy protection arose when its founder and chief operator, Gerald Cotten, died suddenly in December while vacationing in India. Normally, if a financial institution’s executive officer meets an untimely demise, he or she doesn’t bring to the afterworld the only keys to the vault. And thus clients maintain continued access their deposited funds all the while.

In the case of Quadriga, unfortunately, Cotten was the only living soul who knew the password to an encrypted offline repository, known as cold storage, where the firm had enshrined the vast majority of clients’ cryptocurrency deposits. Without the password, no one can access those holdings.

Murky or absent regulations

While the Nova Scotia Supreme Court wades its way through some very novel and complex issues, the question that comes to my mind is: How has one bad decision about password custodianship caused more than 100,000 people to lose access to their deposits?

The answer lies in the murky and mostly lacking regulations that govern the cryptocurrency world. Nothing stops entrepreneurs like Cotten from running companies like Quadriga with no independent oversight.

Had he ever raised equity capital from investors in return for tokens or coins, that process would have been governed by Canadian securities regulations. But because Quadriga is an exchange — maintaining deposits and facilitating conversions between regular cash and cryptocurrencies, but not issuing cryptocurrencies in exchange for ownership shares — it operates in a regulatory vacuum.

Stakeholders show up at Nova Scotia Supreme Court as Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange seeks creditor protection in the wake of the sudden death of its founder and chief executive in December. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

In Canada, the Office of Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OFSI) oversees banks that take regular dollar deposits. One might argue that the OFSI umbrella ought to be adapted to include oversight of virtual exchanges like Quadriga, even though such institutions are not technically banks and their deposits are non-traditional in nature.

That oversight would impose accounting standards and reporting requirements that would help prevent the sorts of irresponsible missteps that put Quadriga depositors in such a precarious position.

A likely side benefit of regulatory supervision would be the eventual development of standardized safeguards against hackers and other cybercriminal activity that plagues the cryptocurrency world.

Lack of regulations attractive to some

A feature that draws many crypto enthusiasts to the virtual currency sector is the very fact that it lacks government oversight, and those individuals will bristle at any hint of new regulations.

Members of the general public might also be leery of new laws lest they grant an undeserved sheen of legitimacy to cryptocurrencies, which are not suitable investments for anyone except the most risk-loving of speculators.

But in Canada, we regulate many industries that are risky or distasteful to some, including gambling, alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. The underlying calculus is that providing standards for certain illicit activities is preferable to driving those activities to the black market, where the risks would be amplified.

For instance, a benefit of buying my beloved guilty pleasure of choice, craft gins, from a regulated marketplace is that I can imbibe confident in the knowledge that my cocktails are free from wood alcohol. Three cheers for avoiding blindness!

We cannot protect Canadians from all possible risks, especially when it comes to financial markets. And to be clear, I am not suggesting that we indemnify cryptocurrency speculators against losses that may arise from taking calculated risks, such as the beating that some fortune-seekers have taken since Bitcoin valuations plummeted from stratospheric heights.

Rather, I propose that depositors ought not to be penalized for the indiscretions of the custodians to whom they entrust their financial holdings.T

Lisa Kramer, Professor of Finance, University of Toronto

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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No vacation? Find serenity with these five financial wellness tips

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Have you been thinking about money lately? Wondering where to find more? Thinking you could do a better job of managing the dollars you have? If so, you are in good company.

Between figuring out how to pay for bills that added up over December holidays, wishing for warmth or a vacation and looking at the beginning of tax season, this is a time of year when people are often prompted to take a closer look at their finances.

Canadians and money

Yet the picture we see when we look closer isn’t always good. Canadian households are holding record levels of debt, and savings rates continue to be low.

With less than 40 per cent of paid workers covered by a registered pension plan, saving for retirement is a critical challenge for many families.

Surveys show large portions of the population in Canada report they are financially stressed, and that this stress ripples out and negatively affects other aspects of their lives.

As a researcher in family economic health, colleagues and I have been researching the financial challenges and opportunities for Canadian adults in mid-life.

Our research shows that the more money family caregivers need to spend on the care needs of others, the worse their own personal financial, social and health outcomes are. It also points to the need to consider our own care needs as well as our families’ when we plan our financial futures.

The financial crisis of 2008-09 sparked increased interest in financial literacy worldwide. In Canada, the Task Force on Financial Literacy defined financial literacy as having the knowledge, skills and confidence to make responsible financial decisions.

Following on the work of the task force, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada consulted widely and developed a national strategy for financial literacy.

Now researchers are moving beyond the idea of financial literacy, which tends to focus on what we know about finances, to thinking about financial well-being or financial health — the outcome we want to achieve.

What is financial well-being?

An international authority on consumer finances, Elaine Kempson, defines financial well-being as the capacity to meet one’s current obligations comfortably and the resilience to maintain this capacity in the future.

That’s challenging for many reasons. We have to make decisions for today that are going to help us in a future with a lot of unknowns.

Children can be brought into financial discussions in age-appropriate ways. (Shutterstock)

It isn’t just financial knowledge that matters, but also what we are able to do with that knowledge in our economic and social environments.

Further, as research in behavioural economics is showing, our brains can get in the way. We think we are making perfectly rational, logical decisions when we aren’t.

Technological innovation in financial services (“fintech”) can be difficult to keep pace with and understand.

And, although there are lots of resources, it can be difficult to figure out which are appropriate for our own situation.

So if you’ve been finding it difficult to get control of your money and make the changes you want to make to improve your financial well-being, there are some good reasons it might be challenging.

While some people respond to a challenge by digging right in, others prefer to look the other way and hope it will all work out in the end.

However, when it comes to money, looking the other way can result in big problems — or at the very least, missed opportunities.

Tips for increasing financial well-being

Whether you feel overwhelmed by your finances and don’t know where to start, or you think things are pretty good but you’d like to make them better, it’s never too late to make a change.

Here are some tips and techniques to start improving financial well-being.

1. Spend less than you earn

Think about three big categories of money: spending for today, saving for the future and giving to the causes and organizations that matter to you and your family. When we spend less than we earn, we create the space to save and to give to others. Note: spending includes debt repayment!

2. Do the math

No one tool is best, but most of us could use a little help in making a budget, revising it as needed and tracking spending. Use what works for you, whether that’s a spreadsheet, an app, financial software or a pencil and paper. The best tools are the ones you use. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has some great information on budgeting and many other aspects of finances.

3. If possible, don’t do it alone

If you have a spouse or partner, work to be sure you are on the same page with financial decisions. Financial stress can be a significant source of tension in relationships. If you’re single, could you have a low-budget finance date or breakfast with a friend to compare notes?

And if you have kids, bring them into money conversations in age-appropriate ways. Research is showing parents can be important, positive financial role models for their children.

4. Save off the top

Arrange to have a set amount come out of your chequing account and go into a savings account each payday. Revise the amount as your pay changes over time. Aim to have three to six months worth of expenses in savings to cover emergencies. Investigate tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs) and registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) for longer-term financial goals.


Read more: How to determine what’s better – RRSPs or TFSAs?


5. File that tax return

Even if you don’t owe taxes, file that return!

Filing is the only way to get refundable tax credits like the GST/HST refund. Federal and provincial governments use the income on tax returns to establish eligibility for benefits and supports like the Canada Child Benefit.

Even if you don’t get a sunshine getaway this year, if you’re responsible and proactive right now, a piece of that serenity will be within reach through your ongoing wellness — and the occasional well-planned splurge.

Karen Duncan, Associate Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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