Innovating the Mumbai Local Experience
Almost a year ago, I was at INSEAD, actively immersed in a course on Business Design. The first assignment in this course was around creating a Shopping Artifact for the regular visitors of a wet market in Singapore. From the classroom we took a journey to the market place and were asked to keenly observe different kinds of people in the market – the shoppers, the vendors, the maintained staff and others. We went about interviewing people, understanding their interactions in the markets and focusing on their specific needs, their pain points and their overall experience as consumers. I captured so many stories. A regular exercise had really come to life!
Back at school, we used this research to conceptualize solutions following a systematic approach called “Design Thinking. Iterative in nature, this approach helped us capture insights from our classroom and field exercises using mechanisms to filter what proved to be good and possibly not so good solutions. These solutions were then prototyped and tested ending in a very comprehensive understanding on feasibility.
The impact this course had on me was immense. I urged to extend this fairly simple but powerful framework to professionals and students in India.
This was my journey to co-founding a company called TinkerLabs, an organization which a month ago achieved a first milestone.
TinkerLabs hosted its first open enrollment program for professionals, enabling them to not only learn about, but also experience the entire process of
Design Thinking in three steps:
1) Help participants LEARN design thinking
2) Provide participants a mean to APPLY these learning
3) Give them tools and pointers to USE this in their regular job
Our participants were primarily from Mumbai hence, it was imperative to choose a thematic which EVERYONE could relate to. What is common across the city? What brings people together? With questions like these in mind, we were lead to the Mumbai Local Railway – an iconic aspect of the Mumbai city which everyone has either experienced or heard about. Hence, the theme of the workshop was set: Innovating the Mumbai Local Experience.
To our honour, news of this workshop reached the Ministry of Railways who immediately reached out to us stating their full support for this initiative.
On the 28th of February, a team of 20+ professionals and railway officials attended TinkerLabs first open enrolment program. This 2-day workshop was a great success, participants got an opportunity to work in groups and understand how users interact with different components of the railway ecosystem. With this know-how, groups set off on a journey to visit 3 railway stations in Southern Mumbai.
Tinkerers spread across these stations, observing, interviewing, smelling, seeing. Upon return, it was time to put their heads together and arrive at insights which were then prototyped using a variety of materials from thermocol to plastic, crayons to markers, paper to cardboard – basically anything and everything they could their hands on. From prototyping it was time to test and understand the feasibility of executing their solutions. At all stages, officials from the railway ministry graciously supported the exercises sometimes as participants, other times as experts.
The workshop ended with how every single participant can take these learnings and apply them to their own workplaces thereby making Design Thinking common place.
Overall it was a weekend well spent, where professionals from diverse backgrounds came together to enhance the user experience of the busiest rapid transit system in the world, a network that connects over 7 million commuters on a daily basis, the city’s lifeline – The Mumbai Local.
We are excited to share that we are hosting this workshop again on the April 11th and 12th.
Click here to check out the details.