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Sarah Purches Design Thinking

Why design thinking matters in HR

Here's how Sarah applied her learnings from Design Thinking for Innovation to her role in Human Resources.

Why did you decide to study Design Thinking for Innovation at RMIT Online?

I had always wanted to return to study, but I have never been the best student. Anxiety, fear and self doubt tends to creep in – all of those high school memories. Starting a new role that was quite greenfields, I had some big problems to solve, or shall I say opportunities to create. Design Thinking for Innovation gave me an opportunity to apply the methodology to these problems and develop some really robust processes that surprised and delighted people. I’m really proud of what I have achieved and I don’t think the outcome would have been nearly as good if I had gone about it in a more traditional way.

Were you able to apply your new skills to your current workplace?

Yes, which has been incredible! Additionally, I now have a better understanding of other roles within the company and how they apply design thinking to the business. It’s wonderfully inspiring and I always get excited when I see the methodology being applied – I’m now able to scream “wow, you’re totally getting into the Double Diamond!”

What was your favourite part of the course?

I have many favourite parts of the course. I was sceptical at first but our wonderful mentor from REA Group simply said “just trust the process”. Once I finally did, everything started to make sense. I enjoyed creating persona’s, it seemed like creating all my own characters for a movie, and I enjoyed getting creative, it didn’t feel like work. Delivering the final piece of work was really exciting and then being able to use it straight away in the workplace. It was really valeyable and I now apply design thinking to majority of the problems I come across and also encourage my team to do so. It’s a far more enjoyable way of solving problems.

How did you manage your time between studying online and work/life commitments?

It was really hard at first, I’m a really social person and I have a side hustle too. I would often read things on my lunch break and then book out an hour or 2 after work 3 day a week to get into the study or completing activities. As the course went on and I was understanding it more, I was able to complete things much faster. I did have to sacrifice a few social engagements, but it was worth it and I actually really enjoyed “going back to school”.

What advice would you offer to someone looking to do a course like this?

Absolutely give it a go. I didn’t quite see it at the time as much as I do now, but design thinking is something you could probably apply to any industry and any role. It opens your eyes, and whether you’re a creative or not, you start to think differently which is really beneficial. Also, as someone who hated school, it was not nearly as scary as I thought. The mentors are really supportive and I really enjoyed the interactions on Slack and seeing other students submit work or ask questions. I never felt any question was silly either because often others would comment “yes, I was wondering that too”. It’s respectful, inclusive and enjoyable.


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This article was originally published on 24 January 2019