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Friday, May 19, 2017

CEIBS Hosts 1st Design Thinking Ghana Conference

May 19th 2017. Accra – More than 160 people explored how to apply design thinking to their business challenges at the inaugural Design Thinking Ghana Conference held today at the CEIBS Accra Campus. The conference aimed to help participants better understand the practice of Design Thinking and to discover ways it can be utilized more in the Ghanaian community. The Conference was organized by the Design Thinking Ghana Meetup Group, Ghana Design Network and the Ashesi D:Lab with the support of partners including CEIBS Accra Campus, Cobalt, Mullen Lowe, Ghana Netherlands Business and Culture Centre, Ghana Think Foundation, DesignThinkers Group, Netherlands, IStream, MEST, and GN Electronics.   

Speakers first explained how Design Thinking can be used to solve challenges in various fields, then helped participants understand how others are using it to enrich their business value propositions. The Conference organizers hoped to familiarize participants with local Design Thinking applications and engage a wider audience in using it.

Design Thinking has attracted much attention recently among both academics and practitioners. It is being taught in top schools around the world, such as Delft, Stanford, Harvard, MIT and CEIBS. It is also increasingly being adopted by companies like Apple, Google, GE, P&G, AirBnB, IBM, Intuit, and Samsung.

The Ghana Conference included Design Thinking workshops in areas such as Product, Service, Programme and, Policy Development, which covered topics such as gathering impactful consumer insights, ideation and prototyping, user interaction design, business model development and entrepreneurship, policy development, delivery of public services, and innovative prize projects.

 “I am pleasantly surprised to see the attendance and the diversity of the audience in terms of their backgrounds, ages and professions,” said participant Marisa Susan Fee, General Manager of GN Groupe Ghana. “It’s a great beginning. Coming from manufacturing and product development, what I am looking to get out of this is how we can turn the great ideas we are coming up with into realities; not just the ‘prototype’ but the actual mass production. We don’t do a lot of planning here and to me this conference presents a flexible and exciting way of helping us not to jump straight to the prototype but to actually involve other people in the process from the start, so that by the time it gets to the prototype, it will be much better. In my line of work I see a lot of prototypes and when you talk to people it is evident that they haven’t really thought through all the different angles, so I see design thinking as a means of working collectively together to improve my area of work.” 

Founder of the Design Thinking Ghana Group, Dr. Gordon Adomdza, who is also a Senior Assistant Professor at Ashesi University and Lead for the Ashesi D:Lab was also overwhelmed by the large number of participants at the conference, and said he believes it is a positive sign for incorporating design thinking into problem solving in Ghana.   

“It is great to see how many people have come out wanting to know about design thinking, and are interested in knowing about the different ways in which it is being applied and how they can apply it themselves,” he said. “What we are hoping to do is to map out a full post-conference programme where we follow up on the interests that were expressed to try to understand who was here and why. This way, we will be able to track how they are using design thinking in their fields and keep the conversation going.”  

The Design Thinking Conference brought together a world class list of facilitators with global experience and exposure to the Design Thinking field. They included Dr. Gordon Adomdza, Senior Assistant Professor, Ashesi University & Lead for the Ashesi D:Lab; Ashwin Ravichandran, General Manager, MEST Incubator; Dela Kumahor, The Cobalt Partners; Yaa Cuguano, mPharma; David Hutchful, CTO Bloom Impact; MamiSerwaa Amoakohene, 3Ps Solution; John Armah, Orios Group; Freda Yawson, African Center for Economic Transformation; Nyembezi Phiri, Consultant, South Africa; Jorge Appiah, Kumasi Hive; Yaw Adu Gyamfi, Center for Social Innovation CSI; Ashlee Tuttleman, Start-up specialist with design-thinking and agriculture value chain expertise; Keith Justus Wako, roofhouse Ogilvy, Malawi; Marisa Fee, GN Electronics; Peter Kerston, Ambassador of the Dutch Designers Network; and Jill and Karl Matzke, Business Coaches, Stanford SEED.

The keynote speaker was Arne Van Oosterom, Founder and Senior Partner of the Design Thinkers Academy and Group in the Netherlands. 

Samuel Ocloo-Dzaba
Janine Coughlin
Photo Editor: 
Ashesi D:Lab