What to Do Instead of School

[ inspiration for self-directed learners ]

Build a Better Wallet

Let’s say you have an idea to improve the world: a new blog, product, philanthropic project, or app. You might work hard on this idea only to discover that no one’s interested. What if there were a way to quickly prototype, test, and revise it before you invested serious time in it?

The Wallet Project, designed by the Stanford d.school, teaches just this. After leading this with 25 college-aged learners at Trailblazer, I’m a huge fan.

You begin by attempting to design “the perfect wallet”—only to discover that your idea of “perfect” rarely match someone else’s. You then find a partner and interview her multiple times, asking what she likes and dislikes about her current wallet, crafting solutions to her problems, and sharing them with her. Then you actually build a concept wallet using cardboard, tape, glue, etc. And then the interviewing and tweaking continues!

The Wallet Project isn’t about wallets. It’s about getting out of your own head and determining other people’s needs so that you can create something they actually want. It teaches you not to get overly attached to your creations and to practice Kaizen: constant, never-evending improvement. In short: it builds skills that every creative person needs to profit from their ideas.

To lead your own Wallet Project, grab some basic arts & crafts supplies and a group of friends, coworkers, or students. Review the facilitator notes, print the worksheets (student/facilitator), and you’re good to go.

For more design thinking widsom, don’t miss the d.school’s free Bootcamp Bootleg and two fantastic books by Tina Seelig: Ingenius and What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20.


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