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Iva Jankovic
December 8, 2014

Meet Lucas Licht

It is my absolute pleasure to present Lucas Licht! He is innovative, open minded, successful and just an amazing easy going person to chat with! Meet new generation of business developers, meet The Design Thinker -- Lucas Licht!

What got you into design at first place?

First of all I am not a designer from a popular definition. I was not educated in a classical design discipline. And design thinking is not to be confused with design. It means applying methods and ways of thinking that designers use since decades.

My background is mediascience and philosophy from the educational site and mediaproduction from a practical site.

After University I wanted to become something else than a film-critic sitting alone at my desk criticising the movies i’d rather loved to direct myself and so i searched for an alternative.

A friend told me about D.School in Potsdam, a playground for grown ups where you work in teams and where you are encouraged to challenge every status quo - i applied - the journey began.

You are a young entrepreneur, a driven design thinker and a fighter for new ways of thinking and co-creating. What has inspired this desire to change old approaches and welcome new ways of coaching?

As beautyqueenish as it sounds: I always dreamed of having an impact on the world, of making things better. As teenager i had these thoughts of revolution and masterplans for new societies. In school i encountered oposing ways of thinking; competition instead of teamwork, memorization instead of reflection and questioning, differentiation instead of couriosity for the richness of topics.

I always looked for extra-curricular activities like student representation or drama-groups where I could work with people. Along my way I met so many mentors who empowered me and others around me to become confident with ones creativity and individual skills. I wanted to be like them; help people to get the best out of them, and to disrupt their old-fashioned ways of thinking - that they are not meant to be creative. Thanks to the d.school I found out that there is not only a desire for that but also a field of opportunities.

You are one of the founders of bettertoday - Agency for Innovation and New Work. A young interdisciplinary consultancy for user-centered innovation. Now you have started harvesting very good results and developing bettertoday to a next level consultancy. What do you offer new clients? How do your clients benefit from your services?

bettertoday provides full-service design-consultancy for services, products and business strategies. We merge design thinking and agile software development to help teams design and create digital products from problem-solution-fit over rapid testing and improvement to implementation. We solve complex problems together with our customers; companies, associations and institutes; and we help to internally and externally communicate change. We offer design thinking workshops and training programs to develop skills and working environments. But I think, what is most important, is that we are working with people who appreciate each other's creativity to solve social, economical or technical challenges and to come up with solutions that make sense.

In the field of Design and Business Innovation you did Research on the topic “Potentials of the Collaboration of Start-ups and the ‘old economy’”. What is your approach to research? and what did you find out in that survey about those two world?

If you only look at statistics you are usually dealing with things from the past. That makes it difficult to come up with new ideas. Instead of solving the what, we focus on the why in our qualitative research approach.

To identify market potentials, companies need to truly understand the needs of their customers and employees. We get in the elevator with consumers, find inspiration and observe potential users in their natural environment. That way we come up with new ideas for products or services long before statistics exist. We generate insights together with our customers or in form of qualitative studies, empathy maps and user profiles. These insights serve as a foundation for decision making processes in a project or in the strategic direction of an entire company.

To answer the second question as quick as possible.

That’s what a lot of “old economy” companies need nowadays: reorientation in their strategies in a fastly changing society.

The picture is not new but let’s play with it: Start-up-Speedboats and Company-tankers.

The tankers are still sturdy and healthy but a little stiff. Changing their course takes a lot of time, energy and momentum.

The speedboats are fast and agile but a little fragile and sometimes short of breath.

If there is a storm in the open sea, the speedboat might go down.

It’s not about making one out of the other - it’s about combining their strenghts to set sail for new coasts: the speedboat scouts the way so that the tanker can change course before it’s to late and the tanker provides the speedboat with fuel and shelter so that it doesn’t have to pack in or crash before time.

D.Collective e.V. (former people network e.V.) is a platform for open knowledge exchange, interdisciplinary networking and collaboration, which you co-founded. Where did the idea for this kind of open source network come from?

After studying at the School of Design Thinking we as a group of alumni felt the need to keep up with what we started there; knowledge sharing and joining forces to make things happen. We learned, or let’s say experienced, the power of collaboration at firsthand. If you find a shared mission with a team that every team member can identify with, you’ll learn that every member is empowered to bring his or her very special skills to the table. You don’t need to be perfect in everything because your teammate may have the complementary skills and interests - only thing that is needed is communication, feedback culture and the trust to let go.

In our community space we road-test the things we preach like dynamic leadership and non-competitive collaboration. Its all about taking action! It’s not always easy to decide everything together but with a little patience it pays off in results, climate and happiness.

You are on top of so many different projects running simultaneously and perfectly complementing each other, where do you get the drive and energy to manage successfully so many things?

simple answer:

Curiosity!

It is all you need to keep motivation up.

Even dealing with tedious tasks you got to stay curious and daring to improve the little things.

It’s still exhausting though.

In January, together with your college Pauline Tonhauser, you will hold a Design Thinking open course, here in betahaus. First of all what is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is a method, a process and a mindset.

The goal is to find user-centred solutions for challenges of all kind. The result can be anything from products, services, workflows, systems or visions.

The process is a very flexible guideline that helps you to go through the essential steps of problem solving. From understanding the problem’s scope and context, to observing and questioning the people who are touched by the problem in relevant or analogue situations, over deciding for a sweet spot to tackle and brainstorming on how to tackle it, to prototyping and testing. You’ll go from one to the other, back and forth, 'till you found solutions that fits.

The mindset is the key to sustainable use of design thinking: it’s the freedom to try and fail - to fail better next time, it’s the trust in a team and the absence of hierarchy in a strong structure of leadership, and the ability to let the inner child take over for a while to open the eyes for the things the adult doesn’t see.

Why is it essential for everyone to implement it in their work, development and teams?

The way we work, changes. The next generations have high expectations of fullfilment in their work lives. Older employees need ways to bring in their valuable knowledge and merge it with the new ways. So much potential is unused.

Today we rather hire and fire than develop the existing work-assets; individuals and teams.

The word is on the streets: we need to go from i.Q. to we.Q.

Design thinking is one way to cope with that and with the challenge of understanding changing users and behavior patterns.

For people who will participate in the Design Thinking Course, what is the asset skill they will gain?

It is not only skills gained but an inspiration and experience that can transform the daily businesses of the participants.The participants will learn the basics of the Design Thinking using it on a real challenge in a divers team. They will visit and experience the world of the start-up scene in Berlin and reflect on the potential of their working modes.

And I promise there will be fun involved - serious fun.

At the end could you share your favourite motto or quote and compare it to a drink that suits it well?

There is a movie with Kevin Kostner: Field of dreams. He hears a voice that says:

“If you build the field, the players will come!”

He should build a baseball pitch to make the ghosts of baseball legends play with him. I really believe that you have to make the first step of realizing your ideas to get companions.

So never wait for others to start the things you want to do. Maybe you can compare this to a daiquiri party just get rum and ice and let the others care for fruits.

Join Lucas and other entrepreneurs at betahaus! Click here to see how to become a member! 

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