Thursday, August 20, 2015

College Students & Design Thinking

Design can help to improve our lives in the present.  Design thinking can help us chart a path into the future.
-Tim Brown, Change By Design, p. 149

Mounting Challenges For College Students

This fall college bound students face a growing number of challenges.  The following three are just a few among that growing number:

1) Financing the ever-increasing costs of college education
   (Tuition, books, living expenses, etc.)

2) Gaining valued work experience
   (High-Demand Skills, Coaching/Mentoring, Interning Experience, etc.)

3) Balancing responsibilities
   (studies, work, family life and other commitments, etc.)

For a number of years, traditional higher education has worked on answers to these challenges with little progress.  But alas, long established business models change slowly in any industry and higher education is no exception.  Thinking outside the box is difficult when ingrained methods have become second nature, if not addictive.  Attempts by government over the last several years have also made little progress in  coming up with significant business model innovations; innovations that address the ever-increasing cost of post secondary learning and its attendant challenges.

It's long overdue for processes capable of producing favorable personalized outcomes for students in higher education.  Out-dated approaches in how learning is delivered continue to hamstring millions in achieving and maintaining competence and prosperity in an ever-changing world.  Innovation is the key.  It requires a dynamic mindset; one that generates different thinking and acting in harmony with that thinking.

The Individual & Design Thinking

Moving beyond the established, if not obsolete, business models of higher education requires innovative processes and methods that deliver desired outcomes to individual students; individualized outcomes that provide students with greater flexibility and opportunity to fulfill their dreams and manage their responsibilities.  Design Thinking provides that capability for individuals and organizations alike.

The oft quoted thought attributed to Einstein is apt in suggesting Design Thinking as a process, if not a discipline, to remedy the challenges facing individuals in their pursuit of learning/education:

    The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking.  It cannot be changed
    without changing our thinking.

Design Thinking, for college students and others seeking effective post-secondary learning, opens the door to thinking processes that produce effective, personalized solutions.  It is human-centered, agile and capable of delivering highly personalized solutions to a diverse student population.  It can be learned and applied by large numbers of individuals to accomplish their specified outcomes.  Design Thinking is definitely an innovative process for answering the challenges of learning/education as well as challenges in life.  It is a process for delivering desired outcomes in the 21st Century and beyond.

The Stanford dSchool Model

Among the many Design Thinking Models available, Stanford University's dSchool model provides a good representation of a human-centered Design Thinking process.  It consists of five modes, each serving a particular focus of the process.  I mention it because of its simplicity in understanding the process.

The Empathize Mode
The Define Mode
The Ideate Mode
The Prototype Mode
The Test Mode

Rather than attempt to explain it myself, I refer you to a link that outlines this dynamic process.

Why Design Thinking?

Whether you are just out of high school, in college, or searching for ways to advance your career, Design Thinking is a high-value skill/discipline that adds credibility to your ability to deliver desired results to projects in any situation/environment.

Innovative solutions...?  As mentioned above, answering the ever-increasing cost of post-secondary learning/education, gaining high-value work experience, and balancing your responsibilities can be daunting.  Nevertheless, Design Thinking makes it possible for individuals and organizations alike to answer and satisfy these challenges.

You don't have to wait for the traditional college business model to change for things to get better.  You don't have to wait in line for government programs to solve these pressing issues.  You can begin now by learning and applying Design Thinking to open the doors of opportunity in education or any challenge you face in life.  It puts you in the driver's seat and empowers you to choose and act to achieve your desired outcomes.

Through Design Thinking and an "I Can" mindset of personal initiative, you can change things for the better.

Thinking different makes the difference!

In subsequent posts I will suggest ways you can apply Design Thinking along with Business Model Innovation to help others as well as yourself move forward to a better and more prosperous life in the present and throughout the months and years that lay ahead.

What Do You Think?

As always, your constructive comments are welcomed.  What did you find helpful in the post?  What would make it more valuable to you?

Related Readings

How To Inspire Creativity and Lifelong Learning for Everyone

How Can We Fundamentally Change Higher Ed?

5 New Careers For The 21st Century


Virtual Internship Design is sponsored by Partnering Technologies, a Learning & Development Company focused on your prosperity (Website:  It's founder, Jim Sanderson, can be reached at the following email address:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Leveraging Your Strengths for Greater Prosperity...
Three Essential Considerations

 " can only perform with one's strengths.
                                   -Peter Drucker, Renowned Management Consultant
                                   The Essential Drucker, HarperCollins e-books, 2001

Your strengths are the key in designing a productive and satisfying virtual internship.  They provide the foundation of a successful interning experience; a valuable experience that opens doors to a number career opportunities important to you.  Furthermore, they provide you experiences to grow and maintain a rewarding, worthwhile career.

To that end, this post considers three essential questions to leverage your strengths for greater prosperity in your career pursuits.

Question One:  What are Your Strengths?

Identifying your strengths is the first consideration toward unleashing their leveraging power.  

Likening your strengths to tools in a toolbox and knowing what "strengths tools" you have at your disposal gives you a good idea of whether or not you have the tools needed to successfully complete a given task. Granted each task/project is different and requires agility and confidence in your ability to deliver on desired results, but knowing that you have accomplished similar tasks in the past with your "strengths tools" provides you with assurance that you are competent to deliver on the challenging tasks posed by new projects.  Subsequently, with each task/project you complete your competence and confidence in applying your strengths increases.

If you haven't already identified your strengths taking this free strengths assessment is a good place to start  It will identify your areas of strength.  After you have taken the assessment you can access the results immediately.  The results page also includes videos to view that explain and help you understand your results.

The late Peter Drucker observed, "More and more people in the workforce--and most knowledge workers--will have to manage themselves.  They will have to place themselves where the can make the greatest contribution;..." (The Essential Drucker).

Knowing your strengths and where and how to apply them effectively, sets you apart from most people and gives you a definite advantage.

How Can You Consistently Apply Them?

Once you have inventoried your strengths, begin the ongoing process of how to leverage them to produce your desired outcomes.  Whether designing your internship or career, look for ways to use your strengths that allow you to make your best contribution to the task/project at hand.  Although each situation will be different, the more you work with your strengths, the more effective you will become in contributing your best efforts to the tasks/projects you work on.

The real catalyst to making your best contribution is working on projects that are personally and professionally important to you.  Your commitment to these worthwhile projects energizes and leverages your strengths with greater power.  Leverage that enables you to develop and access greater capacity to contribute in meaningful ways to purposes that inspire you while accomplishing desired project outcomes.

By consistently applying your strengths in this manner you leverage their power and your ability to create greater prosperity for yourself and everyone who benefits from the projects you choose to work on.

How Do You Optimize Your Strengths?

This third consideration is a natural consequence of the second.  Through consistent application of your strengths, you go through a number of iterations that fine tune them.  These iterations, if closely examined, enable you to identify ways to leverage your strengths in a more creative and innovative manner.  By reframing projects in terms of your strengths, you multiply your opportunities to make valuable contributions; contributions that otherwise you wouldn't have even considered.

You automatically identify ways to apply your strengths in ways that create compelling value in all you do.  You habitually give your best efforts to any task/project you undertake.

Final Thoughts...

The above three considerations lay the foundation for an ongoing process of leveraging your strengths and making your best contribution.  By doing so, you become highly effective in creating greater prosperity for purposes and projects you are passionate about.  You become a key contributor to the desired outcomes of any team you work with.

Questions To Contemplate...

How has this post influenced your perspective on the value of leveraging your strengths?

In what situations would the above process help you contribute more effectively to projects that are important to you?

How would it help you create, innovate, and produce greater prosperity in your work?  In your personal life?

What Do You Think?

As always your constructive comments are welcomed and appreciated.

Related Reading

5 Ways to Discover and Develop Your Unique Strengths

Forget Your Weaknesses.  Develop Your Strengths.


Virtual Internship Design is sponsored by Partnering Technologies, a Learning & Development Company focused on your prosperity (Website:  It's founder, Jim Sanderson, can be reached at the following email address:

Saturday, May 2, 2015


Six Dimensions of Prosperity

"Design is a funny word.  Some people think design is how it looks.  
But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works."

-Steve Jobs, as quoted on

How can you design and secure an internship that will provide you with the highest
return on your investment of time, effort, and money?  

What kind of interning experience will "jump-start" a rewarding career for you?  

In short, how will you prosper during & after as a result of your interning experience?  It's your choice... you set the parameters and you control your experience.

In the following I suggest six dimensions for designing a prosperous, well-balanced, purpose-driven internship/career.

One:  Meaningful Purpose & Contribution

What's your purpose?  What contribution are you inspired to make?

Identifying an overarching purpose (a definite major purpose) that engages your talents and abilities and which you are passionate about, is a good place to start.  It is the foundation of a purpose-driven internship, and also a purpose-driven career and life!  It is the guiding force directing your talents and abilities toward making an inspired contribution; one that is meaningful to you..  

Providing you a "compelling why", it fuels your efforts and generates the power necessary to achieve your goals and accomplish your objectives.  

Two:  Continuous Learning & Growth

What do you want to learn and how will your internship increase your competence and performance?

Your definite major purpose gives direction to lifelong learning that best serves your purpose and contributes to its fulfillment.  It is vital to achieving and sustaining your desired career.  For example, learning how to create value for others requires an ongoing effort on your part to make sure you discover and satisfy the evolving needs and wants of those you serve; your customers.

Your purpose keeps you focused on what to learn and thereby optimizes your capacity to produce desired results.

Three:  Social, Emotional & Spiritual Strength/Intelligence

In what ways will you develop greater social, emotional and spiritual strength during your internship?

Focus on this dimension of prosperity increases your influence with others and gives you greater resilience to successfully deal with stress and conflicts that arise.  Your effectiveness in all aspects of your career will increase as you acquire greater strength in these vital areas.

Four:  Career Development & Advancement

How will your interning experience enhance your career development and advancement?

Identifying your career purpose, goals and objectives saves you time and effort.  By aligning your internship to fulfill your purpose, achieve your goals, and accomplish your objectives, you put yourself on the fast-track to a rewarding and prosperous internship/career.  One focused on meaningful contribution and aligned with your priorities.

Five:  Physical Health & Fitness

In what ways do you want your interning experience to promote your physical health & fitness?

Although it may seem a distraction from building a great career, physical health and fitness combined with social, emotional and spiritual strength, help you maintain a productive and satisfying career.  They provide the reserves to fulfill your definite major purpose.

Six:  Financial Well-Being

Where's the money...?

What financial rewards do you want to receive and when?

The sixth, and certainly not the least, necessary dimension of a well-balanced, purpose-driven internship/career is financial well-being; how will a purpose-driven internship satisfy your financial needs and wants?  Learning, consistently applying and mastering skills that are economically viable are the "economic engine" of your career and the means to fulfill your purpose.

You Get What You Ask For

Remember, whether you are designing an internship or career, you get what you ask for; therefore, make sure you ask for everything you need to enjoy a well-balanced, purpose-driven internship/career.  

Focus on your strengths...

Design it so it not only looks good, but really works for you!

What Do You Think?

As always, your constructive comments are welcomed.  What did you find helpful in this post?  What would make it more valuable to you?

Virtual Internship Design is sponsored by Partnering Technologies, a Learning & Development Company focused on your prosperity (Website:  It's founder, Jim Sanderson, can be reached at the following email address: