Design Thinking 101
The three-hour session at the ThinkPlace headquarters, on the second storey of a shophouse along North Bridge Road, was a fluid exercise.
Using nasi lemak, a favourite local Malay dish, as an entry point, the diverse group broke down the dish into its component ingredients: chicken, chilli, rice, peanuts, cucumbers, ikan bilis (anchovies) and oil.
Everyone was welcome to add their Nasi Lemak stories to a Post It map of Singapore,
from their favourite stalls to memories of Nasi Lemak in days gone by.
In break-out groups, they then analysed the production process of each ingredient – from farming to harvesting, processing, packaging, transport, retailer, and ultimately to the buyer and consumer. They also looked at the interdependency of issues across the food system, and the human stories within it.
They further looked at each stage of the process to examine how threats like climate change would affect each part, and how these effects could be mitigated through better packaging, or better industry collaboration.
Principal consultant Debbie facilitating the sharing of threats and opportunities that participants identified.
Sustainability, including agricultural production, food waste and single-use packaging, emerged as the top concern about the future of food. Upon doing a walk-through, participants chose one area in which they thought they could drive change, before generating ideas.
This was where the diverse areas of expertise from amongst those gathered became apparent. One group proposed alternatives to single-use packaging, like prawn shell film, algae “plastic” and rice husk “plastic”. This was also where Robin Food put their idea on a Post-it, as a solution to food wastage.
Everyone got to vote for the ideas they liked best. The group then thought about what partnerships would be needed to turn these ideas into reality. At least one successful partnership arose for the Robin Food boys. Said Sean, “We met people who are linking us to more food vendors, who might be open to using our app. We may also be sharing our app at an exhibition.”
By bringing the group through a design thinking process – albeit an abbreviated one – ThinkPlace hoped that people would connect and collaborate after the event.
“Singapore has a great eco-system of public, private and international organisations,” said ThinkPlace Managing Director Bill Bannear, when he addressed the group.
“This can lead to some interesting partnerships. If you can achieve one thing today, it would be that you had an interesting conversation with someone, that you refer back to in the weeks to come.”