How an Innovation Strategist Navigates Through Ambiguity
Karishma is using innovation to navigate ambiguity and imagine the future of the gaming industry.
“Push yourself out of your comfort zone and see how far you can go. When you embrace your vulnerability and individuality, that's when the best in you is brought out.”
Could you tell us about yourself?
I’m an innovation strategy and design manager at ZAM. We're a team of intrapreneurs working on building blockchain solutions in the gaming industry. My role focuses on building frameworks that help the team navigate through ambiguity.
In the intrapreneurial space, it's about finding value for our customers. We’re at the fuzzy front end of this new technology and trying to make sense of what innovation could look like. We’re looking for the sweet spot of desirability, feasibility, and viability.
Karishma is looking for innovation at the intersection of desirability, feasibility, and viability.
Why did you decide to take IDEO U courses?
I was previously in the consulting space, and dealt with capturing value through new product development and strategizing the innovation pipeline. I was on the lookout for tools and techniques to navigate through the ambiguity in this space and build on my business skills.
My close-knit community recommended IDEO U courses to me, and it felt like a perfect fit for me. I took the Business Innovation Certificate, which includes Designing a Business and Designing Strategy, because I focus on getting products to the market and making them viable solutions for our organization. It’s really helped me balance the two sides of business and strategy together.
“I was on the lookout for tools and techniques to navigate through ambiguity and build on my business skills.”
What did you learn from the Business Innovation Certificate?
The frameworks that were introduced, such as the business blueprint, have been very beneficial in my current role. Every learner is going to get immense value out of these—it’ll be relevant whether or not your role is directly focused on business.
The way IDEO U courses are structured makes you walk out of your comfort zone, question personal biases and assumptions, and overcome barriers. The learning mentality of IDEO U becomes a part of life.
After taking these courses, I find myself more adept at facilitating ideation sessions and workshops. It’s helped me get my team aligned and on the same page.
What do these ideation sessions look like?
Usually we time-block sessions to really come up with ideas. I feel that people hold themselves back at the divergent stage. Everyone's used to KPIs and parameters to remove ambiguity, but it's more difficult to push away from the norm and think outside of the box.
One activity I do is make my team draw something like a cat. Every cat is different, and people realize the beauty in the individuality and uniqueness of human beings. It also lightens up the mood and makes people feel unpressured.
Karishma uses a drawing activity to warm up her team before ideation sessions.
The other thing that I do is give a “what if” situation, to have a blue sky ideation session. Like, what if you were a robot, or what if you were an alien? People won’t take responses personally, because it's someone not me who’s giving those answers.
What was your favorite part of the courses?
The beauty of IDEO U is the community that you interact with during your cohort. Every individual is from a different background and location, speaks a different language, and brings a different perspective. That's what enriches the entire experience. You learn over the course of five weeks that there are no barriers to learning.
I’m working on a business design opportunity around mental health with a few of my peers from the cohort. One is an HR individual who has the core skills of interacting with people. I have the capacity to build products. And there’s another person who's involved in the finances. It's that perfect mix of meeting people, growing your network, learning from them, and building something beautiful.
For you, maybe you've run into a creative block, or you want to upskill, or you want to grow your network. Maybe you’re looking to get inspired by people in other industries or want to try something new. All of these are great reasons to start looking into an IDEO course, and you will not be disappointed.
“The beauty of IDEO U is the community that you interact with during your cohort. Every individual is from a different background, speaks a different language, and brings a different perspective.”
What advice would you give other learners?
My advice to people who are walking into these virtual doors would be to have an open mind to learn and an open heart to embrace the culture of receiving and giving back to the community of learners. The more you give into the course, the more you receive back from it.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone and see how far you can go. This is a safe space to do that. When you embrace your vulnerability and individuality, that's when the best in you is brought out.
And try to make it to at least one if not all of the Community Conversations, because that's where the magic happens. You meet people, interact, build off each other's ideas, and bring back those connections for probably a lifetime.
Karishma recommends attending Community Conversations, where you can get to know other IDEO U learners.
What’s next for you?
I'm super psyched with my present job because it's a new space for me to dive into. I’m also excited to hone my coaching and facilitation skills, and will be taking a couple more courses in the next year.
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