Design Doctoring with the Idiom and DREAM:IN Teams in a Sari


While I was in India, I was involved in lots of different projects and activities: like branding a new shoe line for the modern Indian woman, and running workshops with large corporate companies – which gave me a greater understanding of the role design plays in India’s innovation processes. I also found lots of opportunities to further develop and deliver my Design Doctor service.

On of my first Design Doctor engagements in India was with the whole Idiom and DREAM:IN teams, and our first appointment together was the start of me providing an independent perspective and helping them to take time out from their daily work creating major retail and educational brands and services, in order to explore new possibilities for where the development of their practices could lie. The Design Doctor service always starts with the participating company’s questions, and in this workshop they were interested in: (a) How do we improve the way we work with entrepreneurs?, and (b) How do we develop entrepreneur’s design knowledge and capabilities? I was really interested in exploring these questions with them as I knew it would give me a deep insight into Idiom’s approaches.


The first appointment involved the whole team (from directors to new team members) sharing their understanding of the questions, and then visualizing and systemising their own journeys through their current design process in order to provide responses to the questions that explored both the current and future contexts. Mostly this Design Doctor appointment is about having conversations, and making time to reflect on how you see your own context – but also the workshop is about having fun (with a bit of chicken dancing thrown in too!).

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The other context of the day we all spent together was very special, and was called a ‘pooja’which is a Hindi tradition of honouring different things in your life.  For this day people were honouring their working tools: which meant that you should not use those tools for the whole day (I really liked this idea!). For this day everyone, both women and men, had to wear traditional Indian dress – but trying to run a workshop in a sari when you have never worn one before turned out to be quite challenging! I found that it made me walk differently, but I was told that I carried it off quite well! It was great in the moment getting involved in the preparation for the pooja, and all the colours of the decorations and flowers when it was finished were amazing.

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The whole team found that their first Design Doctor appointment had helped them to step back and see how they worked together as a whole, and afterwards felt it helped them to better communicate the complexities of their projects to the clients. I also found that I started to fully understand the complexities of the projects that Idiom and Dream:In undertake, and had new respect for the company’s teams and they way they work from start to finish, with a strong process guiding them throughout. In the Design Doctor workshop we found new opportunities to improve the teams’ practices, and these opportunities were explored through ‘doing’ and ‘not thinking’ in a process called ‘Staging the future of Idiom’, where I worked alongside Idiom’s graphic design and architectural teams to co-design their new working space and creative rituals.

This Design Doctor and Pooja day was a great opportunity for me to understand the team’s processes, getting to interact with them all of them, and also testing out the Design Doctor process with two new organisations.

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