Design Thinking: Positive X’s July Cohort

By Ben Chong

On July 14, we had one of our best experiences in Positive X’s One-Day Design Thinking Workshops. With intense activities and rapid design challenges, we graduated 21 fully-fledged Design Thinkers!

The July cohort has been our largest group so far in all our workshops. Our coaches saw individuals from all backgrounds transform into powerful innovators as they learned the process of Design Thinking.

Here are some of our favourite moments:

Want to know more about Design Thinking in Malaysia? Positive X is a people development firm that equips talents with design, innovation, and entrepreneurial thinking and skills. You can know more about us at http://www.positivex.asia.

This article was written by Ben Chong, our resident Design Thinking enthusiast and creative.

Edited by Ben Chong.

How To Teach Design Thinking To Kids

By Ben Chong

Just last week, Positive X held its very first Design Thinking For Youths workshop at Me.Reka Makerspace. We had an amazing time teaching children and teens the process of empathy, ideation, and turning their ideas into reality. Our workshop helped Young Makers realise the importance of Design Thinking, and how to use it in their future.

Check out our video below to peek how we taught Design Thinking at the workshop!

 

 

Want to know more about what we did at the workshop? Check out our blog post where we broke down the process: Design Thinking For Youths: Teaching Kids Real-World Problem Solving.

Positive X is a people development firm that equips talents with design, innovation, and entrepreneurial thinking and skills. Our Young Makers programmes aim to transform kids with Design Thinking and cutting edge education into powerful innovators. You can know more about us at http://www.positivex.asia.

This article was written by Ben Chong, our resident Design Thinking enthusiast and creative.

Edited by Ben Chong.

The Dos and Don’ts of The Working World: Part One

By Ben Chong

A few weeks ago, our founder Marcus was invited to speak at Sunway College’s Explore Talk. The initiative helps students prepare for the working world after graduation. By reaching into his own career experiences, he explained how in reality every industry valued an how well-developed an employee was over how well educated they were. Marcus spoke about the 10 key skills most graduates would need to possess outside of education in order to succeed:


1. Be Self-Aware

Self-awareness lets us be concious of our own character and feelings at all times. In workplace settings, this becomes a crucial skill. When things get heated and the pressure of deadlines get to you, being self-aware allows you to step away momentarily, observe your emotions, and understand how its affecting your work. Competent employees use self-awareness to both minimise harm when they’re at a low point, and maximise their productivity when they are in a good mood.

2. Be Observant
Too often, employees are too quick to share their opinions instead of observing situations first. As new employees, learn to take time to observe yourself, your surroundings, and your work. Being able to hang back at the workplace, and analyse situations can lead you to better, more thought out ideas. This lets you contribute more effectively at work, and helps you stand out among your peers.

3. Always Communicate
One of the trickiest skills to master as an employee is to communicate well with others. In most cases, fresh graduates and experienced employees alike make the mistake of giving their opinion too quickly. When you prioritise listening to others over giving your own opinion, you allow coworkers and clients space to express themselves, understand them more deeply, and make better responses. This turns you into an employee who is valuable, trustworthy, and patient.

4. Engage In Politics
Despite technology’s fast-evolving flood into various industries, the success of a workplace still depends on its people. As new employees, its important to realise all great projects hinge on the responses of people involved. Learn to engage in the politics of a workplace, check who is involved in your tasks, and make a point in interacting with them. This lets you encourage more positive responses within projects, and increases your chances at success.

5. Learn To Value Add
Take the initiative to do more than just your initial workload, and become a well-rounded employee. Encourage yourself to observe and ask your clients and supervisors what more can you contribute to help them. This may involve taking on additional tasks, roles, and even further learning. By learning to value add, you push yourself to become a multi-faceted employee who is reliable in and out of your typical roles.

6. Keep Changing
Monotony is the greatest enemy of any employee, especially new ones. Let yourself change and adapt faster to the working world by adopting a learning posture. Always ask yourself how you can do your work more efficiently, explore new ways to fulfill tasks, and allow yourself to experiment in the workplace.

7. Think Critically and Creatively
Critical and creative thinking are more than just buzz words and mandatory classes. By adopting these two thought processes, you provide yourself a framework to launch deep analysis, and create meaningful ideas in the workplace. This allows you to catch the finer details in projects where others may falter.

8. Spot Trends
Mobile media consumption has reportedly almost quintupled since 2011 from 5% to 24% of the global population, more than 2 billion people. This rise in technology and media consumption has made trend-spotting a valuable work asset. Being able to spot trends allows you to come up with better ideas, solutions and insights. Even by investing just a little time to catching up with the news can give you an edge as an employee.

9. Embrace Failures
The truth of the matter is that you will fail at your work, a lot. No one is perfect but by admitting so, you allow yourself to embrace those failures, and learn from them. Learning to embrace failures lets you become a resilient and reliable employee who can be counted on to pick themselves up when the pressure is on.

10. Find mentors
One of the biggest misconceptions new employees fall for is assuming their career can only be built alone. This only serves to isolate new employees, make them feel lost in their work, and prevent them from working efficiently in teams. To avoid this, make it your priority to seek out a mentor. Be open-minded, and seek out senior professionals to ask for their opinions. Having a mentor can help ground you in the most difficult times, and their experience can be key to helping you grow into a valuable employee.

Want to know if you’re ready for the working world? Positive X is a people development firm that equips talents with design, innovation, and entrepreneurial thinking and skills. You can know more about us at http://www.positivex.asia.

This article was written by Ben Chong, our resident Design Thinking enthusiast and creative.

Edited by Ben Chong.

This article is part one of a two-part series.

Design Thinking For Youths: Teaching Kids Real-World Problem Solving

By Ben Chong

Much of today’s education is founded on ‘rote learning’ where classes are more focused on memorising content instead of understanding the why. Rather than engaging the material, schools put more value on finishing textbooks and written exams. This has left children and teens with a huge lack of experience required to be creative and solve real-world problems. So in an increasingly complex world, how do we ensure they have what it takes to innovate and succeed?

On July 25 to 26, Positive X ran its very first inaugural Design Thinking For Youths workshop as part of our Young Makers programme. The workshop is designed to equip kids and teenagers with real-world problem solving skills by understanding user needs. We did this in 4 simple steps:

Learn With Real Challenges
From the get-go, we posed a real-life Design Challenge to get our participants out of the typical classroom experience. By presenting the clear challenge of ‘How Might We Make Publika Mall More Fun?’, we avoided the ‘rote learning’ mindset and instead focused on actively solving a real-life problem. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Coaches also encouraged participants to move around, and explore the mall in order to understand their users. This provided Young Makers with a new surge of independence and creative thinking in the workshop. Children and teens started expressing opinions and ideas more confidently when they realised their contributions would affect a real project.

Approach Users In Real Life
Understanding your users is key to solving real-life problems. In the Empathise step of our workshop, young participants learned to interview real users at Publika. By doing so, children and teens learned how to explore the feelings and needs of users.
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Later on, we found out our Young Makers never thought of understanding challenges from the source. They reported the activity gave them more confidence to speak with users in the future to solve problems.

Understand Problems Deeply
Problems can be vague and complex even to the most seasoned of innovators. During the Define step of our workshop, Young Makers learned how to drill down the information collected from users to find a universal need.
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Our coaches chose to use only hands-on activities to help the Young Makers categorise all their observations. With lots of sticky notes and paper, children and teens found it much easier to sort information on a physical space. Eventually, this let them identify which users and needs they would aim to help.

Execute Ideas Rapidly
Here’s comes the fun part! In Ideate, Young Makers were responsible for coming up with as many ideas as possible in an hour. Children and teens were given unrestricted freedom to be as creative as possible with their solutions. To facilitate this, our coaches provided simple thought exercises to encourage their ideation.
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For example, Young Makers were asked to ‘Think like a superhero‘, and imagine all the things they could do with unlimited strength, smarts, and wealth. This helped encouraging them to create more unconventional ideas, and resulted in two amazing prototypes by the end of our workshop.

Positive X is a people development firm that equips talents with design, innovation, and entrepreneurial thinking and skills. Our Young Makers programmes aim to transform kids with Design Thinking and cutting edge education into powerful innovators. You can know more about us at http://www.positivex.asia.

This article was written by Ben Chong, our resident Design Thinking enthusiast and creative.

Edited by Ben Chong.

Positive Stories: Yong Vin Kit

by Yong Vin Kit

Joining Positive X as an intern was a surprise for me. I never imagined at any time in my life that I would get to work in a startup. But here I was, learning everything from scratch, and realising that there really was a lot out there that I didn’t know.

Obviously, it wouldn’t make sense to list down everything I learned in my three months at Postive X – startups are expected to be lean right? So here are 3 of the biggest lessons I learned as an intern.

It’s about the team

We’re often told that being competitive is the way to go to succeed in life. But life isn’t just about being the best, it’s also about creating value. Working with other people is the best way to create that value. Interning in a startup made me realise that collaborating can create amazing results that will amaze you. But it can be tough to work together, especially when you’ve been told all your life that the winning team are the only ones who matter.

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it certainly wasn’t built by one person! Organising events, and brainstorming for ideas made me appreciate the value every individual can bring to the team. Nurturing that cooperative and collaborative relationship between individuals is key to sustaining a healthy, productive working environment.

Expectations, expectations, and expectations

Working life is all about managing expectations. While we’re used to meeting a list of prerequisites in order to excel in our classes, that’s not the case when you start working. One main difference between both is the kinds of expectations at stake.

In school, I studied to meet the expectations of my parents, friends, and teachers. Every effort I put in, and every mark I earned was made for their expectations of my own performance. However, my internship showed me how a change in perspective was needed. When you work for a company, every effort you make, no matter how small or big, could determine an entire project’s success or failure. Unlike school, you not only have to meet your own expectations but have to take into account the collective expectations of your colleagues and workplace as well.

But most important of all these lessons…

The only failure in making mistakes is not learning from them

The fact of the matter is that you’re bound to fail a lot when you first enter the workforce. Your knowledge and abilities are constantly challenged and under pressure, especially if you’re working in a startup that’s relatively new! You’re bound to realise that a new job or a new business can pose intense learning curves, and throw lots of obstructions in your way to success.

But the beauty of it is that you don’t have to be afraid of you’re failure. In my 3 months as an intern, I learned from my mentors at Positive X it didn’t matter how many times I failed but how many times I learned from failing. Everyone has to start learning from somewhere – true failure only occurs when you don’t stand back up at the first bump.

So don’t be scared of making mistakes, embrace them as opportunities to get better at handling the same problem next time instead!

Learning on the job is an entirely different world to learning from books. But be brave and enthusiastic about the challenges you encounter, and you’ll soon find yourself growing into a powerful team player.

 

Positive X is a people development firm that equips talents with design, innovation, and entrepreneurial thinking and skills. You can know more about us at http://www.positivex.asia.

Yong Vin Kit is a 2018 Positive X Intern, who is involved in market research, and organises workshops and training regimens for Positive X’s Design Thinking programmes. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance with Honours from Sunway University. Check out his LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/yongvk/.

Want to know more about internship opportunities at Positive X? Send us your resume now at info@positivex.asia to find out more!

Edited by Ben Chong.

 

Call It Living

I grew up dreaming. I wanted to have my own business – a business that is on the road to world domination.

I remember vividly that I knew this is to be true on one of my trips to Singapore. I cannot remember what the speaker was expounding on – something on dreams, make your dream happen (yada yada yada) – but I felt strongly convicted that I will have my own outfit someday. It took 8 years for this vision to bear fruit. Not as bad as Noah but it was bad enough in my books.

It was not smooth sailing at the start. My first ever attempt (back in 2004) was cut short in just 6 months – quite foolishly because I quit my job and declared that I wanted to start my own gig – with no plans in hand. Quite sadly, I had to rely on someone else’s product to sell and they were not convinced that I am the right partner. As this product had a long sales cycle, my savings ran out which brought me to the decision to hop back into the job market, painfully and shamefully, with my tail between my legs. Even though it was my fault the venture failed, it was painful nonetheless.

My second start, OrangeTree was a little more promising. We sold handmade baskets sourced from the Philippines. It was by accident – we came across some pretty baskets over there, we took a liking and took the gamble of stocking up, lugging them back on the plane and selling them to families, friends and hey, at the bazaar! We quit after the second attempt at shipping in the stocks when we were clobbered with a 20% import duty – which literally ate into our margins! At that time, making a grand total of RM8,000 for a couple of months work was outstanding.

This taught me important lessons – that my wife is better than me at remembering product prices and most importantly, it taught me that I could really make money. You see, I have never sold anything in my life before this. This built my confidence.

My third attempt was PositiveLinks Asia, a boutique executive search firm, which I started late 2010.

Truthfully, if I were a betting man, I would not have wagered on myself. And to the reason why, let me share with you my life qualifications.

  • I’m of average intelligence. Really. My IQ scores suck (but not that bad). Like I mean, I can really identify with Moses when he said that he was of “slow speech and mind”. I amm toooo.
  • I’m a late bloomer. I need time to figure things out, to mentally process them. I have no witty comebacks. No insights to share or spare.
  • I’m no sales guy. Someone recently mentioned that I did not have the “killer instinct”. He’s right. After 7 years in business, I still don’t.
  • Did I tell you that I’m monolingual? I can only speaketh English. As this post is evidence itself, I can’t write for s**t.

But, with God’s grace, it has been 7 years a very fulfilling, non-linear journey. The good and the painful; of growth, of pruning and of adjustment; and of faith.

I gained and I grew. From success, mistakes and failures in a life that isn’t linear. However, I don’t intend to rabble on.

What I’m trying to express is this – that setbacks and failures shouldn’t be reasons for us to quit our dreams, to quit trying. Sure, our confidence takes a good knock, we blew off (burn, burn, burn) some serious cash, we upset people, we are mocked. But the thing is this – we experience failures only when we put ourselves out there.

I failed many times. This is what I did – I picked myself up, spend some time in solitude to lick my wounds and unwind, figure out what the learnings were and then carry on with my life.

Is PositiveLinks Asia on the path to world domination? Not even close. But I still harbour this ambition. World domination may not ever come but this doesn’t mean I should quit dreaming.

After all, is this not what we call living?