Workshop Your Life the "Design Thinking" Way, with Hila Mehr

Workshop Your Life the "Design Thinking" Way, with Hila Mehr

#Mindrmama Meghan Butler spends her days working in the tech industry and her nights working on passion projects, which include writing, reading, podcasts, and her husband and son.

It’s a familiar scene. Your little one has decided it’s time to pitch their daily fit.

You have an overflowing bag of groceries slung over your shoulder, and your beautifully designed and quite expensive stroller at the ready. All you need is 60 seconds to unlock and open the collapsible tangle of metal and plastic, but your screaming child clings to you and dials it up a notch as you try to set them down. You’re stuck with a beautiful piece of junk, lacking entirely in human-centered design.

“Design is an ethos — it’s a way of creatively developing solutions around the needs and context of real people.” – Hila Mehr

Hila Mehr, who will be speaking with the Mindr crew this Sunday, is an expert in human-centered design or "design thinking". She works in market development at IBM and has led workshops in the US, Nigeria and India to help individuals and organizations become innovators by applying design-thinking principles.

At first glance, design thinking might seem like a concept most relevant to corporations and large organizations, but the core principles can be applied to practically anything. On Sunday, Hila will be speaking on how parents can use design thinking to #HackYourLife. Think of it as the yogic concept of living an intentional life, taken a step further.

Human-centered design is the core of nearly everything we do. It's in the stroller or baby wrap you use daily. And the clunky-but-functional plastic high chair that doesn’t look as sleek as the minimalist Scandinavian version, but was clearly created by a parent with function in mind. Design thinking provides a new way to approach everyday problems - in parenting and beyond.

Carissa Carter, the Director of Teaching and Learning at the Stanford writes: “At the we endeavor to enable our students in eight core design abilities so that they might develop their own creative confidence and also inspire others, take risks, and persevere through tough projects throughout their lives.”

Taking a closer look, these eight abilities are closely tied to the skills we all need as parents and as people:

  • Navigate Ambiguity

  • Learn from Others

  • Synthesize Information

  • Rapidly Experiment

  • Move Between Concrete and Abstract

  • Build and Craft Intentionally

  • Communicate Deliberately

  • Design your Design Work

At least a few of these abilities likely line up directly with your day-to-day tasks, from parenting to professional to passion projects. We are all designers in some capacity - perhaps you don’t draw or create sculpture, you’re not a UX maven but you are the master of your + your family’s universe. Hila says, “You can use design thinking to frame problems in a different way. Instead of immediately prescribing solutions to a problem, understand the context of the problem and the value you are looking to gain by solving it.”

So next time you face adversity, whether small or large, instead of rushing for a solution try to take a step back and apply some of the key design thinking principles:

  1. Create a human-centered solution: Design thinking is, at its core, created to respond to human-centered needs. Sometimes in the rush of everyday life, we can forget that solving problems is just another to-do to check off the list. How can we create solutions that will be an investment in the future?

  2. Be mindful of process: Similar to #1, it can be easy to search for the quickest and easiest fix for any work you need to complete or problem you’re facing. Approaching life with design thinking in mind means trying finding ways to be thoughtful in both. How will you improve your methods in the future?

  3. Culture of prototyping: Be kind to yourself as you work through designing solutions and efficiencies for your life. Allow yourself to try something and have that method fail, then take those learnings and incorporate them into the next attempt until you find the best fit.

  4. Bias toward action: Too often when thinking about how to design your life, you can get stuck in the “thinking” portion. Design thinking encourages action-oriented thinking - try a solution and then another and fine-tune until you get to a solution that works. This goes hand-in-hand with the culture of prototyping. Try and then try again and try a third time until you are able to meld together the best solution or design for you.

  5. Show, don't tell: Stuck on a problem? Draw it! You don’t have to be Picasso to leverage visual tools to think through a topic. Humans as a species are highly visual, whether you attended art school or not. Have you hit a wall in your design thinking? Bust out those crayons and construction paper and workshop it in pictures.

  6. Radical collaboration: It’s important to remember that even when you’re in the middle of creating a design thinking plan or solution, you’re always a member of a tribe, a community and a team. Bringing together those who think differently than you can always help shed light on the process. And you don’t have to be stuck at an impasse to have these conversations! Grab a cup of coffee with a friend and chat through what you’re working on - there’s magic in collaboration!

We hope you’re able to join us on Sunday to speak more with Hila about these and other #HackYourLife ideas.

Hungry for more Design Thinking? Here are some of our favorite articles on the topic:

The Design Resources You Need

13 Inspiring examples of design thinking from Japan

Let’s stop talking about THE design process

Results May Vary: Design Thinking For Living [Podcast]

How To Intentionally Design A Happier Life

Designing a consilient life: Story Musgrave at TEDxWellesleyCollege

3 Great Examples of Design Thinking In Action

Three simple steps for a mother to change the world

Three simple steps for a mother to change the world

Sarah Lux-Lee is the founder of Mindr, which runs talks, workshops, classes and events led by global experts, where crying babies are welcome. This post first appeared on the United Nations Foundation's Global Moms Challenge blog. You can see the original piece here.

Nurturer. Supporter. Cultivator. Protector.

These are words used to describe a mother. She brings us into the world, sacrifices to make us strong, and loves us more deeply than anyone could know.

I have another word to add to this list: Changemaker.

Today, mothers are banding together around the world in unprecedented numbers to address some of the most pressing issues facing not only women, but humankind.

Take the Moms Clean Air Force, a mother-led movement of more than a million members working to clean up air pollution. The Force equips its members with action tools and resources. Armed with this knowledge, they meet with lawmakers at every level of government to build support for practical policy solutions. The organization mobilizes through a network of state-based field teams, and is fueled by the dedication of its members. “Moms have passion and power – an unbeatable combination,” says the team. “We are harnessing the strength of mother love to fight back against polluters.”

In the world of work, MomsRising is channeling the power of mothers to increase economic security, decrease discrimination, and achieve workplace reforms that will allow both businesses and families to thrive. “We started with just a handful of members, and through mom telling mom, through person telling person, we grew to over five million readers,” says Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, CEO and Co-Founder of this group of moms and allies. The organization lists its recent wins as achieving serious momentum for paid family leave, investments in affordable childcare and pre-K programs, and gains towards equal pay and overtime pay.

As the founder of Mindr, an organization empowering new moms and dads to become changemakers through advocacy workshops, feminist discussions, current affairs debriefings and other programming where crying babies are welcome, I am deeply inspired by this collaborative approach. For many of us, the transition into new motherhood is isolating, but connecting with others who are driven by our shared values can be not only personally fulfilling, but immensely powerful.

My tips for becoming a #mamachangemaker?

  1. Find your tribe. None of us can achieve social change alone. Join platforms like EmpowerWomen, an online community facilitated by UN Women which brings together people and organizations from almost 200 countries to drive forward women’s economic empowerment. Offline, seek out in-person gatherings where moms and others can get together to connect and collaborate on social issues.
  2. Be focused. The world is complex and full of injustices, and no one of us can fix them all. Think about which social problems are most meaningful to you, and harness your passion towards solving them. Whether you give your voice to voting rights, hustle to end hunger or make climate change your cause, by focusing your energies you can make an outsize difference to some of the world’s biggest challenges.
  3. Set goals, and measure your impact. Joining a mailing list is easy, but setting clear and measurable indicators for success is critical to effecting change. Maybe there’s a law or a workplace policy you want changed. Maybe you want to mobilize your friendship circle to focus collectively on a social issue. Maybe you’re aiming to raise money for a charity or NGO close to your heart. Whatever your objective is, know it, measure your progress against it, and share your challenges and successes with those around you, so that you inspire them too to become a part of the solution.


Fighting for universal maternal health

Fighting for universal maternal health

Dr Adrian Brown is the Chair and Co-Founder of Maternity Worldwide, a charity bringing high quality maternal healthcare to women and girls in the developing world. All proceeds of Mindr's upcoming advocacy workshop on International Women's Day will support Maternity Worldwide's important work in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Did you know that every year, around 287,000 women die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth? Or that for every woman who dies in childbirth, there are 20 more who suffer from injury, infection and/or disease during childbirth, equating to an additional 7 million women every year? Ninety-nine percent of these women live in developing countries. Every year, one million children die as a result of the death of their mothers.

The vast majority of these deaths are preventable, and it is unacceptable that there are such high rates of maternal death in low-income countries. This is why a colleague and I, both working in obstetrics and gynecology, decided to establish Maternity Worldwide in 2002. At Maternity Worldwide, we aim to help reduce the number of women dying or injured in childbirth in three Sub-Saharan African countries: Malawi, Uganda and Ethiopia. We chose this region because Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the world - 640 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is significantly higher than the 17 deaths per 100,000 in developed regions.

Our experience working in these countries has shown that the most practical way of reducing maternal deaths is to address three key delays, known as the 'Three Delay Model':

  • Delay in seeking care, often caused by the low socioeconomic status of women and poor understanding of maternal health problems in communities
  • Delay in reaching care, due to the inaccessibility of infrastructure and the lack of affordable transport
  • Delay in receiving adequate care, due to a lack of trained staff, poorly equipped facilities and inadequate referral systems

In responding to these challenges, we have been able to make a difference across all three countries. Achievements in 2016 included:

  • Working in 50 villages in Malawi to provide maternal health information through local women's groups, so they are aware of the risks of pregnancy and childbirth and can seek medical assistance early. More than 2,000 people have attended these groups, with 86 percent now aware of the danger signs to look for during pregnancy. Ninety-five percent would recommend local healthcare to a friend or relative in the future.
  • Training 67 Health Surveillance Assistants, who are employed by the Malawian Government to provide maternal health information in the villages. This means that once women reach a health facility, fully trained staff are available to assist them.
  • Opening our Maternity Center in Kiryabutuzi, Uganda. We have recruited two midwives, who have already started to establish health promotion sessions in the 14 surrounding villages.

Our goal for 2017 is to train more student midwives, increase the number of midwives at our health centers, and deliver health promotion sessions to more women's groups, along with antenatal care for pregnant women. However, we can't do this without the help of our fantastic supporters, which is why I want to thank everybody in the Mindr community for the upcoming advocacy workshop being held as a benefit for Maternity Worldwide. Without people like you, we would be unable to do this lifesaving work, and International Women's Day is the perfect time to highlight the inequalities still prevalent today across the world and to make a change.

For more information about Maternity Worldwide, check out their website, Facebook and Twitter.