Intentionality of design is an important component of any successful project. It means understanding the customers’ needs to ensure the final product meets, or exceeds, those needs in the customers’ own context and constraints. Wouldn’t it be great if these were baked-in at the beginning? If we intentionally designed products, services, and processes not only to be useful, but preferred? We are great at designing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, STEM, into products, but not as great with design from the actual users’ perspective. Design Thinking is not new, but through “STEAM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Design and Math), its gaining recognition and validation in more aspects of our lives – in the things we use and how we use them – next iPhone, Golden Gate Bridge, pacemaker, insulin pump, etc.
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Effective advising, just as an effective implementation of STEAM in any environment, requires empathy and understanding commensurate with technical credibility. The result? Together, the NATO team was building a system that was Afghan-appropriate, effective and sustainable. In the end, that is what ultimately mattered.
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