By: Sanya Uppal

Open Design+ has provided an extremely fulfilling and rewarding experience. The 6 weeks flew by, but it taught me three valuable things in that short time:

  1. Ask reflective and purposeful questions

This program highlighted the importance of asking reflective and purposeful questions in the design process. It provided direction and intention in an open-ended program. In the Understand phase, it was very impactful to understand which path my team was taking. In the Create phase, it determined a shared purpose that each member of my team was fully invested in and drove our ideation process. In the Evaluate phase, it helped us decide what feedback we value most. Most importantly, in the Communicate phase, it informed our narrative and gave us a compelling story to connect with our audience.

  1. Co-creation is challenging, but rewarding

Open Design+ constantly emphasizes the need to co-create – design with your stakeholders. However, over the course of the program, my team interviewed over 30 individuals and sent out surveys, which had dozens of responses. Having multiple stakeholders and taking into account the varied responses, hopes, and desires of each is a challenging process. But this collaborative innovation is what makes the design process so unique and rewarding. I learnt how to listen without judgement, adopt a “yes and…” mindset and consistently ask for critical feedback in order to improve and adapt my ideas.

  1. Learn from the people around you

The most fulfilling aspect of the program was the diversity of opinions, interests, and experiences of the Open Design+ team and the emphasis on engaging with stakeholders that represented different voices. It taught me the value of having diverse perspectives not only in the design process but also in my learning experience. I am grateful for the honesty, support and “open” mindset of the leadership team and the other amazing students in the program.