DESIGN THINKING – PERFECT TOOL TO PUT YOUR PLAN INTO ACTIONS

Is your planning technique effective? 

 

Do you find yourself always exhausted, racing to meet your deadlines at the last minute? Do you plan your life carefully and keep track of time well, but still struggle to get your job done on time? Don’t be surprised if you are, because you are not the only person in this world who fell into the planning fallacy mindset without realizing it. 

 

The Planning Fallacy was first introduced by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in 1979. They proposed that human beings are not very good at estimating time, costs and risk to complete certain tasks, even if we have the right experience in doing such tasks. This results from only focusing on a prediction, based on specific elements of a plan, rather than the distributional data. This leads to tasks not being completed on time because the individual underestimates what is needed for the deadline to be met. Furthermore, we can be overly optimistic about ourselves, in that we believe that we have enough time to complete tasks. Consequently, this means that the individual makes excuses for poor time-keeping. 

Design thinking is one of the most effective ways in which a person can overcome this struggle in planning and executing what has been planned. Design thinking is a human-centric concept to help people design their own solution by digging into the root causes and solving them. It is time to spend your time tailoring your own plan for the new year. 

 

STAGE 1: EMPATHIZE – WHO ARE YOU?

Understanding yourself is easier said than done, but it is time to take a seat, to have a self-talk, to identify your strengths and weaknesses as well as to clarify your short-term and long-term goals. 

There are 4 questions you should ask yourself. Try to answer as honestly and clearly as possible:

  1. What strengths make you proud of yourself? 
  2. What weaknesses make you lose your opportunities? 
  3. Now, what do you want to change? 
  4. What is your dream for the future? 

 

Do not answer in general like “I want to improve my English level” instead, make it specific and measurable like “I want to achieve IELTS 6.5 in the next 6 months”. The more details you give, the deeper you will understand yourself. Such types of answers will make your plan more practical and more suitable to yourself, therefore making it easier for you to implement the plan. 

 

TIP: Consider asking your parents, your relatives, your co-workers or whoever in this world that you believe understands you, and ask for their opinions. This will help to avoid a subjective understanding about yourself or an illustration of yourself that you created. 

The goal for this stage is to dig into who you are, to learn and to explore more about yourself. 

 

STAGE 2: DEFINE – WHAT DID YOU DO? 

After learning about yourself, your next step is to reflect on what you did last year by answering the following 3 questions: 

 

  1. Which goals/tasks did you complete in the last year? 
  2. Which goals/tasks did you plan but fail? 
  3. Which goals/tasks did you reschedule ?

 

Next steps: List down all of the reasons both subjectively and objectively that you think led to the failure of task completions. This will enable you to find a method that avoids procrastination in implementing the plan in the new year. There are many methods to help solve your procrastination and to reschedule the task completion on time, which may come from internal or external factors. For example, you may feel that if  sharing your plan on social media or with close friends will motivate you to achieve your goals. Or you may challenge yourself with punishments and rewards. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure that it will boost your must-do attitude meaning that no delay or procrastination is allowed. 

STAGE 3: IDEATION – WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?

In this stage, you should keep calm and relax, let your mind wander to write down your goals: what do you want to improve or what you want to change? Where do you want to travel? How many books or what kinds of books do you want to read this year? Do not forget to think about your dream. Just write them down in your journal or whatever place you feel safe. Don’t worry if it may look a little bit messy on your paper, I will help you arrange it later. 

One important note you should bear in mind is that your techniques should help you to overcome your procrastination, which you have listed in the ‘Stage Two: Define’. Ideation will be the foundation to enable you to implement the method successfully, thus try to make it as precise as possible. 

STAGE 4: PROTOTYPE – PUT YOUR GOALS INTO PLAN 

Design thinking is the solution-orientated and action-orientated step in which you must focus on finding actionable solutions. Thus this stage is the most important in the planning process. In this stage, you will put all your goals and activities into a detailed plan. 

  • Categorize your goals and actions:

The first step is to divide your goals into 3 smaller categories: 

  1. Personal Development: The goals or actions that will help you nurture your personal growth.
  2. Study/Work: The goals and actions that will lead you to your career path.
  3. Family/Friends: The goals and actions that will strengthen your relationships. 

The more correctly categorized and prioritized these goals are, the easier the next steps will be. 

 

  • Strategic plan 

 

These previous parts will be evaluated again in time length and importance in order to categorize them into short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. This step requires a lot of effort and careful thinking so as to avoid mistakes. The following is one technique that I find easy to apply. 

Firstly, start with the axis of abscissas, you put all the goals in this axis. Arrange these goals based on its level of importance and affection to yourself. 

After that, you will use the axis of ordinate to evaluate the difficulty level, time and effort in each goal. The more difficult the goal is, the more time you spend, thus you can move this goal to a higher position. 

For example, if your goal is to achieve IELTS 6.5 in 2020, to me it is a medium difficulty level and it is also important. Thus my graph will be like this:

As you see the strategic plan graph divides into 3 parts:

Part 1 – Short-term and easy goals that you can finish in 3-6 months 

Part 2 – Medium-term and average difficult goals that take longer time about 6-18 months to complete. 

Part 3 – Long-term and difficult goals but not urgent goals which you can finish in 2-3 years. 

Put your goals into these 3 sections and the goals, which are in the Part 1 area, are prioritized in your detailed plan. 

 

  • A Detailed Plan

The detailed plan includes 2 important numbers: deadline and key result.

  • Key results: A plan is nothing without clear and measurable outcomes because they help you estimate the desired results and avoid giving up in the middle. 
  • Deadline: Give yourself specific time of completion in the goals. There are many apps which can assist you as the reminder like: Evenote, Wunderlist, Calendar,… These apps will help you stick to your goals and complete them on time. 

In terms of the medium-term and long-term goals, you can break them into smaller activities and put them into your detailed plan. This action will make sure that you are following what you have planned and start doing it from now. 

STAGE 5: TEST – CONTINUOUS PLAN IMPROVEMENT

The plan is just what you write down on paper. That’s why to make this plan come true, you need to invest your time, money and effort. There is no perfect plan in the world and you should test, do, learn and test again, as to which method fits with your style. You might not be able to change your goals but you can change the way you take action in order to achieve your goals. Be flexible and be prepared because there will be uncontrollable factors coming from the external environment, as well as from yourself, that may cause failure in implementing your plan.

 

I hope that you can stay focused on what you are about to do, always believe in yourself and always try your best to be a better you. Remember that if you plan it on just paper, next year you will be in the same state as you are right now but you’ll be one year older. Be strong and brave, take action, and challenge yourself! 

I hope all your plans come true as you expected.

5 ways to advance your life and enterprise with a growth mindset

Why do people imply staff performance related to mindset?

When I assign the same task to two of my new energetic staff, they perform in two different ways, which embody two different types of mindsets. Vincent’s mindset is about guarantee. He sometimes has no idea dealing with failure and also be afraid to change when receiving feedback from others to improve his performance. He takes it personally and sometimes she is displeased. Vincent requires his benefits before doing something.

Youth training in Botanic Garden, Singapore

On the other hand, Jules expects to receive feedback from the senior when making mistakes. To cope with a failure, she dares to change and improve her ability to accomplish well later on. She perceives challenges as ideal opportunities to fail and to learn. If she encounters something that is quite troublesome, she will endeavor to overcome somehow. After all, you can know that who has the fixed mindset and who possesses the growth mindset in this story.

What is Mindset?

If you refer to someone’s mindset, that means their thoughts and beliefs drive them into habits and the way they commonly think about issues. The mindset orients our disposition or attitudes to handle situations. The mindset has much influence on what people think, how they feel, what they perceive and what should they react. In other explanation, the mindset shapes your belief and your belief shapes your attitudes. People have various mindsets of the same thing due to perceiving in different ways.

The book called Mindset: The new psychology of success written by Carol Dweck, who is a psychology professor at Stanford, is one of the most prominent psychology and individual development books nowadays. The book reminds me vividly of my personal experience.

The Fixed Mindset

People with the fixed mindset believe basic qualities like talents are fixed traits. They view failure as permanent. They are more likely to give up when facing an obstacle. When they feel criticism as a personal attack, they seem to quickly give excuse and explain.

Their behaviors are shaped by innate ability and their priority always is validation and achievement. The insight of people having the fixed mindset is that better performances. They are less likely to take creative risks. They choose easier tasks and put in minimal effort.

The fixed-mindset people don’t allow others be better compared to themselves. If their colleagues try new things and succeed, fixed-mindset people feel threatened. They are afraid that success will put pressure on themselves to do more. Safety is their choice.

The Growth Mindset

People with the growth mindset believe new abilities can be developed by practice. They consider challenge which is just an issue need to be faced, resolved, and learned from. It is possible to say that growth-mindset people can all adapt, progress and experience without any fear of being painful.

Most people are not perfect, and they should suffer from losses and hardships to be stronger and more at peace than ever before. The growth mindset doesn’t mind to show their imperfections as they think that weaknesses are not the problem. The problem is just only the person who cannot accept these weaknesses belonging to them. The imperfections should be recovered since that helps people to improve their adequate development.

Personal performance is good, but the process of how to bear the failure is much more important. The growth-mindset people assume that it takes time for development and achievement. They aren’t convinced of being talented. They strongly believe in the determination of learning from time to time, arduous working and toil to get an accomplishment.

How do you know that you are a fixed-mindset person or a growth-mindset person?

Let’s emphasise straightforwardly in this case. What do people react when receiving a course of work? With the fixed mindset, it will be: “People will finish it with no mistakes. People should avoid being a failure. People simply lose interest or temperature when facing challenges. People think about the inputs for themselves rather than the outputs for others.”

In contrast, with the growth mindset, it will be: “People make mistakes, and it’s not a problem. People need to have feedbacks, even constructive criticism. People get ready to undergo current trouble. People are excited to try to do something beyond what they’ve mastered. People make an effort to figure out the measures of solving issues better than they did.”

5 Significant Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset

1. Acknowledge and embrace imperfections

Even if you demonstrate your best traits of a great person, but you hide from your deficiencies, you will never be excellent in most cases. You are unable to overcome the fear of weaknesses. Of course, fear can hold you back. Have you ever thought that fear is an obstacle distract you from building your strengths? Grasp an opportunity to discover yourself, uncover imperfections hidden and deeply understand yourself. This will be a premise to change the weaknesses towards your strengths.

2. View challenges as opportunities

The growth-mindset people consider each challenge is an opportunities to grow stronger. We continuously determine who we are and what we are able to achieve after enduring troublesome issues. In fact, people might not control events that occur to them, but these unanticipated events serve as a big deal to test truly your characteristics. Thus, it is grateful for welcoming opportunities to learn and to improve.

3. Replace “to fail” with “to learn”

Have you ever heard a quote of Samuel Beckett? “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

It’s not a shame to share your failures with each other. When you make a mistake for your goal, you haven’t failed, you are learning. You learn from the bad experience for yourself instead. You shouldn’t think you’re a loser, think that you’re a learner and then an achiever.

4. Redefine “genius”

A genius is a person who suffered from a whole host of challenges, hardships, losses, and toils. You should redefine that the genius is shaped by hard-working, not only natural ability. The fixed-mindset people believe in talent or intelligence. However, the growth-mindset people only recognize improvement and development throughout the experience. You will be a genius if you mobilize your resource and stretch on your way.

5. Learn from others’ mistakes

It is better to combine our mistakes and the mistakes of others to learn. That will be valuable information for you to tackle the problems that push you up. People sometimes share the same weaknesses, which is a chance to empathize and adapt it to your case. It’s not always wise to compare yourself to others. Learn from others’ missteps and travel down on the bumpy road that helps you be more better.

Advancing the youth’s success with 21st century skills

“Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” — Will Smith

I have been traveling around Asia to share my experience, idea, skills and mentoring many young startup. I have been asked many times which skills need to be developed and how to obtain them. As the world is changing so fast, technology like AI, IoT, robot will soon take over many current jobs. What should the youth prepare?

We clearly foresee that entrepreneurship acts as our central comparative advantage. Nothing else can give us the necessary leverage to remain an economic superpower sustainably. It is undeniable that the need of 4Cs including Critical thinking (and problem-solving), Communication, Collaboration and Creativity is a integral part in the global society.

Critical thinking

In fact, a person cannot learn well without thinking well. As I know, graduates in Vietnam specifically or Asia in general are lacking of autonomous learning whereas researching and marshallings are foundation courses of educational system in international colleges and universities. International schoolchildren learn to filter out unnecessary information and choose the reliable one. Yet Vietnamese youth do not have this important skills because of their lazinesses in exploring and thinking leading to being unable to absorb pertinent knowledge and gain fulfillment after graduation. They complain about the Internet-based references are unreliable and misleading. And the reason is that they do not sift data or even estimate resources they had.

In addition, they figure out a problem with irrelevant questions which make others are fed up due to their insufficient thinking well before asking. The process of making such inquisition helps you to deeply understand to problematic aspects that you endure. You want to exercise critical thinking, let ask the questions whenever you discover or discuss new information. Let start with 5W1H: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. Such questions regulate your decisions. I definitely underestimate those who are not able to making decision. Even it fail or you make a mistake or fall short of a goal, you have not failed, you have learned.

Communication

The ability of communication effectively which means that you communicate what think and feel. You are going to convey clearly a message and inspire someone to do better, good communication helps you to do it. There are several ways to communicate well among individuals throughout face-to-face conversation, digital channels or teamwork. People who get involved in a casual conversation will not grasp your thoughts or ideas properly unless you make an effort to practice communicative skills on a daily basis. In each case, you have to learn how to share information, how to present in public and how to make a request effectively and efficiently.

You sometimes make the same mistakes that you demonstrate excessive information, or you explain ambiguously with unfamiliar words. If you ramble on, your listeners will either tune you out or will be unsure of exactly what you want. A good communication means saying just enough – don’t talk too much or too little. Try to convey your message in as few words as possible. Say what you want clearly and directly.

Collaboration

In 21st century, collaboration is of significant importance among community. We are now living in multi-society where people from different backgrounds, cultures and nationalities. We tend to integrate ourselves into this community to achieve a defined and certain purpose in global society. Therefore, Vietnamese youth should learn collaborative skills in order to work effectively with a particular group of people and lifestyles. You should learn interactive methods and empathy while working in a team to get a higher level of productivity, to share responsibility instead of devolving it to others.
Vietnamese people are woefully inadequate this skills since I assume that they are afraid of taking responsibilities and endeavoring to gain results. They have a preference for being secure and unwilling to take risks. Personally, I properly appreciate those who dare to change and shoulder duties which aim to lead their members and thrive their organization. I consider that they are inspiring leaders, and I always advocate them to become more genius.

Creativity

Creative skills is to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connection between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing.

Of course, critical thinking can support people to master creative skills. If you have ideas but do not act on them, you are imaginative but not creative. However, Vietnamese citizens, particularly young people, are not accustomed to innovation. They might be wounded when they demonstrate different ideas from others and get negative judgement. A judgment is just an opinion of someone else, and you should not mind to limit your ability.

It could be a culture of Vietnamese people as they cannot be accepted if they alter something new. They are able to speak up but they keep silence, they want to debut their products to public but they do not, and then still living in imaginative world instead. It is not alive. It is a glimmer. Get your ambition which means to stretch on your own way and be creative in order to compete internationally.

It’s 4Cs that I want to mention to enlighten those who are still get stuck in common issues in my country. When young generation acknowledge the need of 4Cs and master these skills, we will account for the prosperity of Vietnam to be a worth-living place in the world. Are you contributing to be a pivotal part of this development?

7 lessons for young Vietnamese entrepreneurs

You will face a lot of challenges as an entrepreneur; Here are some things that can help you overcome these

Having done many projects – some of which were failed ones while others made considerable progress – I have gained myself a few life lessons that I think would be valuable for young people.

1. Observation

Observation skills are the first thing we need to work on. I am talking about the observation where you learn by watching things happen around you, and you analyse them.

When attending a networking event, how can you tell who is important to approach?

Let us suppose that you want to open a restaurant. Now imagine yourself setting foot in a trashy Pho diner with dirty tables, and the rude staff – would you find yourself feeling annoyed? If not, then, do you think you could operate a good restaurant of your own?

When you observe, you can learn how a lot of things need to be done correctly for setting up a successful startup.

2. Self-discipline

As you launch your startup, there will be no one to supervise you. Hence, you need to plan your schedule carefully, be strict towards yourself to avoid days where you feel like not going to work and oversleeping because you are too tired or, just simply, unmotivated.

When you are the boss, not only do you work for yourself now but you also work directly with your business partners. Being the boss, you have to be an ideal model for your employees to look up to. Especially when you are the one to set up a startup, during its first period, you are expected to deal with and solve all of the unexpected problems. Without discipline, your system will most likely to not run smoothly.

Having a self-disciplined life guarantees you a physically healthy body and a flexible mind. In contrast, an ill body accompanied by a tired mind will prevent you from being productive. Spend at least 30 minutes per day on exercise to get in shape.

A self-disciplined lifestyle helps us have enough energy to face and cope with business challenges.

3. Getting used to rejection

Rejection could come and knock on your door at any time when you invest in a project or found a startup. Back to days when I first started my business, I was turned down at least 30 times before getting my very first client. You must accept the fact of being rejected and take that as a normal part of the process. What needs to be done here is that after every rejection, you figure out the reasons that lie behind it and prevent it from happening in your next attempt.

In order to become a businessman or a businesswoman, bear in mind that you will have to face a lot of bad news coming from many sources: your investors, your staff, customers, and so on. If you let the negative thoughts distract you, you shall waste a large amount of time, nothing will get done, and no lessons will be learnt.

4. Right attitude

There are some problems in younger generation: throwing rocks at people that are better than them; looking down on others’ talents and hard works, and spreading rumors about someone they know nothing about because of envy. You will never can be a better version of yourself if you do things like these.

When you face bad things in life with a positive attitude, you will gain life lessons, which seem to be small and not worth paying attention to but in fact are very valuable.

Humility is a good way to help your soul flourish. Humility helps us fight against greed, braggadocio and narcissism – all of which are cancerous to Vietnamese’s values.

5. Being fluent in at least one foreign language

The world is getting flatter and flatter, and if you do not know its lingua franca, which is considered to be English, then your job opportunities are very limited.

Learning a new language is like working out. In order to be muscular, we have to work out every day. Spend at least 5 minutes to practice your English skills, turn this language into a tool helping you step up in the career ladder.

People who speak English fluently tend to be more confident. According to a survey, a person who knows how to speak English earn 30 per cent more than those with the same job but do not speak English.

6. Daily reading

Vietnamese people read approximately one book a year, stated Mr. Hoang Le, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Publishers Association. Vietnamese people spend only VNĐ 40,000 (US$ 1.76) on books every year, meanwhile an average Chinese person spends VNĐ 200,000 (US$8.80) and people from developed countries spend around VNĐ 4 million (US$176).

Reading is a way for us to gain knowledge, learn skills and experience things for free. Reading could also provide us with a deeper understanding of our jobs, life, better thinking habits and therefore helps us grow. As a result, we are more equipped and become confident when holding conversations, have better control over the way we behave and improve our conflict solving skills.

7. Keeping promises

Young people have to get rid of the bad habit of being late. Try to arrive at least 15 minutes in advance for every kind of meeting.

Once you promise someone something, make sure to do your best to keep your word. I promised to help a Vietnamese French man recruit his team and sort out the red tape and bureaucracy during his first time coming to Vietnam to do business. I tried my hardest to assist him and expected nothing in return. Later on, thanks to him, I met a lot of now very big clients of mine.

So bear in mind the word “trust” and do not let anyone down once they have put their trust in you.