One of the most common questions Malaysians ask about some trend or other that’s making waves is whether Malaysia is ready for it.
After our second screening of Design & Thinking, the movie about design thinking, this was one of the focal points of discussion. Yong Kian, a furniture designer talked about how working across disciplines was a non-negotiable requirement for design thinking to happen:
“Design thinking doesn’t work if you don’t have the collaboration across disciplines aspect. It can’t just be a whole bunch of engineers in a room. You need someone who brings a different perspective because that’s where new ideas come from.”
However, working collaboratively in these kinds of groups requires knowing a little bit about each profession. Without this, there is no foundation for a common language and understanding in the team. Sometimes, the design thinking method can also act as the beginning of a common approach for working together.
According to Yong Kian, this is difficult to achieve in Malaysia.
“There is still a minimal level of interaction between disciplines. There are still no double majors… People don’t get to go out and mingle with people from other areas.”
A web designer at the screening agreed, suggesting that specialisation across functions in the Malaysian work context made it very difficult to learn about how other professions work, let alone learn about other professions.
She recalled a web development project she worked on where she did not have any contact with the client and had no information about the client’s business because the marketing function handled it entirely.
It probably wouldn’t make sense to answer the question of whether Malaysia is ready for design thinking. As most things, design thinking will start small and grow as people practice it. However, for the participants in yesterday’s screening, Malaysia does not yet have the right conditions for design thinking to thrive.
Originally posted on Kal’s blog.