We lose creativity in the pressure of cramming the books, forgetting how to think out of the box which in reality that is what matters the most. It is amazing to see the lengths companies like Fidelity International go to ensure that this does not happen to their employees.
Friendly environment and their work culture, promote innovation and creativity and I found this out in our recent visit to Fidelity Internationals.
The arrangements were great, well prepared and thought through, thanks to Ms. Sawdha Mishra and Mr. Amit Verma who worked really hard for it.
After the chat session (which you will read below) on design and entrepreneurship with Jagriti, they had 2 workshops planned. Teams were divided in the audience for their participation in the activities.
The first activity was an ice-breaker to get us comfortable. The next activity was to create a product while fulfilling the given conditions. This was a longer activity with multiple stages that included creating the product, launching it and generating revenue. At least, making plans. Being a Marketer I loved this activity.
All these activities were thought through and well-planned kudos to their team. The intent was to make multidisciplinary people work together and come up with an idea.
Now here is the excerpt from the interview session of Ms. Jagriti Pande:-
Fire-side chat with Jagriti
Q1: How will you summarise your entrepreneurial journey so far?
It has been a huge learning experience so far. Very exciting. Honestly, it is still at a very nascent stage, where I am learning a lot. One thing I can say is that I have gotten up more times than I have fallen. I had the fortune to work with really great clients and some bad ones. But I have learned so much from each of them. So far so good.
Q2. Tell us more about your first venture – ClickEinstein. What challenges did you face while implementing the idea in the Indian market?
ClickEinstein was an Ed-tech product that enabled teachers and students to give and take feedback in real time. In the current scenario, especially in universities, the class size is anywhere between 50-70 students. The teachers are able to know whether or not students have understood a topic only in the mid-session exams or the final exams. Our premise was simple. We created a tool where teachers can take tests quickly and gain insights into students’ understanding of the topic in real time.
The bigger goal of the product was to empower students with the data on their own learning. A student will be able to make better choices in +2 or while choosing a college based on their aptitude and interests if they have enough data on their learning and interests. They will also know their week subjects.
The product gained warm reception in few foreign universities but was not welcomed in the Indian market, mainly because of the lack of interest of teachers and stakeholders at school. We got some really heartbreaking responses like, “What’s in it for me? “, “ Will I earn extra money if I use this application?” and a lack of trust on students who bring mobile in classrooms.
Q3. What are the biggest drawbacks of being an entrepreneur – especially in the context of the Indian marketplace?
I cannot give an answer for every Indian entrepreneur, but there are challenges that I have faced. It is stressful at times. Especially in the design business, you are asked to justify the cost or ROI of the User Research and UX. Also, I am not really proud of it, but the stress and the erratic schedule does take a toll on your health.
Every one of us has their own interests and preferences. There is nothing wrong with wanting stability, a fixed routine and less stress. But if you value these things more than anything else, entrepreneurship might not be the best choice. Especially in the early stages, it can be hard.
I personally, still feel that the pain and hard work is totally worth it.
Q4. Being a creative professional yourself, you must have experienced what it’s like hitting a creative roadblock. Which methods or tools do you usually resort to for inspiration?
A few years back, I also used to talk about the creative block or designer block. But lately, I have realized, sometimes you just have to go through the motions.
Excuse my french, but a few months back I read a book “ The Subtle Art of not giving a f**k” by Mark Manson. He says that all of us are bought into the fancy idea of motivation inspires action. So we listen to the podcast, inspirational talks and music.
While in reality, it is the opposite. Action inspires motivation. If you can just keep creating even when you do not feel like it, there will be a point from where you will look back and feel inspired by the progress you have made so far.
So, I do this. Even when I can’t, I will sketch 8-10 ugly sketches, and at some point, I start getting better ideas. Many ideation techniques like Crazy 8 or the Design Studio are examples of how you have to keep creating to move forward.
However, there are few times when you are stressed and not really getting any ideas, even if you try hard. At those times, I sleep or meditate. It works wonder.
Q5. Speaking of Inspiration, whom do you admire the most in creative space and why?
David Kalley. Not only did he build a hugely successful company, but he also helps others to do so. He is the one who taught us all “design thinking” which has now become sort of a cliche, but he has done phenomenal work. He also started the D school in Stanford. His mission in life is to train people to find their creative confidence, which I find really inspiring.
Q6. You have been working with a lot of industry veterans and mentors – what key insights have you gained working with them and how do you use it to your benefit?
We are extremely fortunate to have worked with some of the best clients. But honestly, these are the businesses who have just now started embracing design. They are in the transition phases. Though they have not necessarily taught me Design, they have taught me really a lot in terms of how business should be done. The old school conventions that still hold true.
There is just so much that I have learned, some timeless rules – like how to treat your people right, how to stay humble always and most of all how to be a nice human being.
Being a good person is good for everyone!
Q7. What according to you are the most important things to ensure successful implementation of design accessibility?
There are two things – one is the mindset and the other is tools or techniques. It is essential to understand that not every disability is physical. For a long time, I did not know how to manage my finances properly. In that sense, I was financially disabled. Disability can be cultural, contextual, literacy-based and physical.
What would you say to a person who cannot see?
( Jagriti actually asked this question and audience replied “blind” and “visually impaired”. )
Do you know if they were sitting here, they would have taken offense at you because of the way you addressed them as blind or disabled?
The correct way is to address them as “persons with visual disability”. And this is the thing about mindset. We do not even know how to speak to them or about them. They are persons before their disabilities. We must know and understand their struggles first. As designers, empathy is everything. So, we should have a genuine interest in understanding more about them. If you are designing something for them, start by inviting them into your world.
Then comes the techniques. There are hundreds of guidelines that you can refer to. Simple things like putting images with appropriate alt tags, videos with a caption, always using labels with icons and not completely relying on colors to denote system status.
These small-small things can make a huge difference.
Q8. How do you inculcate the culture of design thinking within your organization?
We pay special attention to hiring. We try and see if the person is even remotely interested and inclined towards understanding user behavior. There is nothing about good or bad talent, but it is more about cultural fit in our organization.
Whoever joins us is made a part of the design workshops where they get to work with tools and techniques for design thinking.
We try to come up with new ideas together as a multidisciplinary team. Everyone does usability testing with real users and asking questions is always welcomed.
Q9. If you have to recommend just one book for creative professionals, what would that be?
Change by Design by Tim Brown. We all have heard and read so much about Design Thinking. But if you really want to learn how it is actually implemented in IDEO – the place where it all started, you must read this book.
It is told like a story and by the time you are finished, you would have already learned so much about Design Thinking.
Q10. Tell us about Jagriti outside of work – what motivates you and keep you going?
Honestly, right now work and personal life is not separate for me. So, there is no outside of work.
In the early days, for some time I did not even know what I did not know. The ignorant me still used to wear the chip on her shoulder. But when I was out in the wild, reality hit me. I finally got to know that there is just so much that I do not know. So I think, for me, the things that I know I don’t know and need to learn are one of my biggest motivators. I feel lucky, each day I get an opportunity to learn something.
Apart from that, I am extremely fortunate that I stay with my family. Even if I have a bad day, I know I have them to go to. My Mom, Dad, and brother are my biggest cheerleaders.