Silicon Valley Design Thinking Club Regional Chapter Premier in Tokyo


We had a first international event outside of Silicon Valley at WeWork Tokyo on August 27th inviting experts from various industries including fintech, cleantech, accelerator from both onsite and offsite. Let me share what we discussed:


Introduction of what we do

We started introducing the “Open Club”, founded by Stanford GSB LEAD Alumni, Pavel Azaletskiy and Misha Bykov, inviting entrepreneurs, design thinkers from various industries for the purpose of “innovation in practice”.

The ecosystem is comprised of 1. Corporates with design thinking experience to give insights to participants, 2. Startups to solve problem using design thinking methodology through workshops, and 3. Stanford students/alumni to give insights by applying methodologies such as design thinking and business model analysis and 4. Mentors/Investors.


Past Events

As for the past events held at Stanford Campus, I had mentioned few examples including Michael Gough from VP of Design for Uber who talked about corporate innovation of Organization Design ”Uber Case Studies Design Thinking ”, Abhijit Thosar from BNP Paribas of Design Thinking process of organization ”Fintech in Design Thinking ”. As for Startup in the Clean technology, Ryan Ferguson, founder of AEG (Advanced Environmental Group “Tailoring new product experience - an evening-long journey”), dealing with IOT connected Waste Bin, introduced his experience in SVDT workshop to “sharpen their business model” by doing Empathy Mapping, Brand positioning of Market Peers, Customer Experience Journey mapping based on Personas. Also I explained about how I met SVDT through co-hosting the workshop event with EPAM System of “Design Thinking Sandbox”, a process for Design thinking which can be experienced anywhere at anytime to present the two different Prototypes with 4 members, Juana-Catalina Rodriguez, Scott Butcher, Wayne Cheung and Katie Nicholos.


Steve Monaghan, General Partner of FinMirai, Chairman CEO of Gen.Life

Steve explained his experience in days including Shinsei, DBS and AIA where he was leading the Innovation of the organization.


One of the insightful point he mentioned throughout his experience in building innovation at financial institution is Steve Job’s quote “Start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology”. Many times, we try to make design look good instead of knowing about the real needs of the customer and this ends up spending so much money.


In order to apply that, he mentioned about the 3 important principles for design thinking process when driving innovation, which is ESE (Emotion, Simplicity and Ease).

When we buy a product, “Emotion” guides our decision. For example, when you buy jewelry, the customer may be a guy, but you need to know that there is an influencer which is the guy which gives a gift to.

“Simple” is cognitive, we must enable the customer to get the right information justify the decision. It does not mean that the product has to be pretty. Sometimes there are Bank customers having 40 different tokens due to the complexity.

“Ease” is an effort of executing the decision and acquiring the product or service.

Steve explains that with/without these 3 principles, it would impact a tremendous amount of cost to the organization when trying to make innovation happen.


In summary, Steve mentioned three points to be aware towards designing organization for innovation.

1. We connect and collaborate to innovate as group

2.Change the organization from being said “No” to “Know”

3.Key is that Knowledge empowers you


His first point is the importance of collaborating as a group instead of one genius person to initiate the project. Second point is, when you propose the innovation, most of the time you will be said from the management is “No”. You will pursue the stakeholders to explain repeatedly so they will “Know” the project.

Thirdly, the key to the success of the innovation is the Knowledge (about the innovation) that drives you and your customer.

I was so lucky to having Steve as first speaker if this event with his experience and passion to drive his innovation.


What we plan to do

Moving forward, our plan for the activity are 3 things:

Guest speaker with the experience in Design Thinking

Workshops to startups with business challenge to apply Design Thinking process

Meetups between Corporate and Startups to foster Open Innovation

As Steve mentioned in his speech, they key to the innovation is to bring every stakeholder on board to change from “NO” to “KNOW” to stakeholders. SVDT is an Open Club established from Silicon Valley, and we are at the next stage to leverage the best practices of innovation around the world to apply which best fits the local needs. Let’s enjoy and explore the next chapter of design thinking for innovative society!

I would like to say special thanks to Julia Somoylenko, Giulia Ismagilova, Tatiana Afanacieva and Yoshihiro Nozaki for strong support.




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