Briefing with Principals: Hong Kong Design Centre’s “UNLEASH! Empowered by Design Thinking” Programme – Unleash

Briefing with Principals: Hong Kong Design Centre’s “UNLEASH! Empowered by Design Thinking” Programme

September 29, 2018


A structured and action-oriented framework, Design Thinking is leading the development of business, education and society around the globe.

To introduce how design thinking can be implemented in local primary and schools to stimulate students’ creative thinking and problem-solving abilities, Hong Kong Design Centre invited various design thinking experts from Hong Kong to share with Hong Kong educators at a briefing on September 29, 2018 – the first event under the “UNLEASH! Empowered by Design Thinking” Programme.

Soft Skills in the 21st Century

Ms. Alice Lai, the executive director of LF Asia Direct of Li & Fung Limited, the world’s largest supply chain management company, said in the briefing that in the face of the the 21st century challenges, we must remain curious and have the courage to learn from every endeavour, while also learning to be empathetic to understand the needs of customers. These soft skills are best exemplified by design thinking.

Design Thinking in Primary Education

The very first important step in design thinking is to empathize. Prof. Joseph Chan, (Programme Lead of Business Design and Innovation programme, Faculty of Business and Economics, the University of Hong Kong), said in the briefing that design thinking is human-centric. It means we should not only consider the opinions of the users, but also care about the impact on all stakeholders and the environment. Thinking with new perspectives can help build a broader vision, discover new possibilities, and solve problems in a more efficient way. In the face of the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) environment around the world, it becomes all the more important to develop design thinking traits of AISE (Agility, Information, Structure, and Experiment).

Dr. Ernest Lo, founder of Future Impact Lab, gave an example to explain how to use design thinking tools to explore innovation space and expand the thinking horizons for creative inspiration. Before we ideate, we need to look into the problem from different dimentions through stakeholder mapping. We should first make a sketch of all the relevant people in the issue, then use arrows to show the relationship among them. Uncovering the essence behind the issue will help us transform and define the issue more appropriately, so that we can easily and creatively solve the issue with new, or multiple, perspectives.

Dr. Lo and Prof. Chan will be responsible for the teacher training workshop for local primary schools. The two believed that teachers are important facilitators who should not only teach students the knowledge in books, but, more importantly, to guide students in discovering their personality traits and various talents to release their creative potential. Focusing on interdisciplinary knowledge, design thinking is a systematic new method to unleash potential.

Design Thinking in Secondary Education

Prof. Bernard Suen, Project Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the university has a programme that allows students to minor in Entrepreneurship & Innovation (EPIN). It is a multi-disciplinary program open to all faculties. Progressing from STEM to STEAM education, the newly-added ‘A’ signifies the inclusion of liberal arts. The University of Hong Kong will also start a new degree combining arts and sciences, signifying the importance of such interdisciplinary trend.

While the HKSAR Government is vigorously promoting STEM education, the basic education of students also needs more of our attention. Mr. Freddy Law, Executive Director and Innovation Consultant of Education for Good, pointed out that in addition to STEM education, there are scholars advocating basic education to take into account HELP (History, Ethics, Literature, and Philosophy). “If there is no HELP, we will become helpless,” he said.

Real-life Implementation of Design Thinking

Hong Kong Taoist Association Wun Tsuen School has been implementing STEAM projects for years. “We can’t simply rely on hardware, such as an iPad, hoping that we are really educating our students,” Ms. Rowena Cheung Po-man, Vice-Principal of the school said. “As educators, we must seriously ponder how to THINK. By learning how to utilize design thinking, we can help them develop their creative potential.”

Eric Yim

Pak Kau College has also been actively promoting STEM learning. Vice President Mr. Au Ho-kin shared a quote by Carl Roger, the renowned American communication scholar: “The primary task of the teacher is to permit the student to learn, to feed his or her own curiosity.” Inspiring peoples’ interest to solve everyday issues is the problem-solving skill that design thinking focuses on. Mr. Au believed that problem-solving ability has become the most important skill in a workplace, as emphasized by the Chief Executive’s Policy Address. It is a new thinking that promotes the value-adding approach and advocates interdisciplinary cooperation.

Prof. Eric Yim, Chairman of Board, Hong Kong Design Centre added, “Having relied on manufacturing in the past, Hong Kong has now entered the stage of Design Economy. By incorporating Design Thinking into the economic model, Hong Kong can become an international city of innovations.”