Bushcraft reflections...

It's been a few weeks since the last post. During this time I have been reflecting on the bushcraft experience.

You may be wondering what bushcraft has to do with design thinking, in this post I will share some of my thoughts.

We designed the bushcraft session to provide a team building experience for the Eureakaha students. Getting the team working together in a new environment, would break barriers and prepare them for the challenges to come. Yet its clear that the value runs much deeper. The bushcraft activity has enabled us to relate the basic principles of design thinking to a real experience. For example:

  • Observation - Oli did a great job instructing the students, requiring them to listen, watch, notice details and ask questions. This has helped the team relate to the 'fly on the wall' and 'contextual inquiry' techniques covered in week 3.
  • Immersion - being immersed in the bushcraft environment has helped us develop the students understanding of ‘walk a mile immersion’ and ‘Journey mapping’ techniques. This provides a basis on which we can challenge the team to think about how they would redesign the experience of a ‘bushcraft student’.
  • Empathy - the experience of preparing a pheasant for cooking has enabled us to dive deeper into the concept of empathy. The pheasants were prepared by hand, without using tools. Clearly, this isn't for everyone and some of the students opted to limit their participation to observing. However, it has provided an opportunity to discuss the importance of emotions, and explore how the students felt and responded to this situation in different ways. This creates a great foundation for introducing 'empathy mapping' techniques and the importance of a non-judgmental mindset.
  • Prototyping - the team rolled up their sleeves and practiced the wood cutting, tool making, game preparation, fire lighting and cooking techniques that they were exposed to. This experience will help develop meaning for the students when we touch upon 'fear', 'failure', 'prototyping' and 'learning by doing', in the coming weeks. There is also value in exploring the role of 'craft skills' in design thinking, whether this is in making 'low fidelity' prototypes or 'crafting' an experience.
  • Story telling - Stories have played a pivotal role in passing knowledge down the generations. Humans are wired to communicate in the form of stories and campfires have been a focal point for story telling for thousands of years. This provides a basis on which to explore the importance of story telling to effective communication, especially in the workplace.

At a personal level, the greatest insight lies in the power of anchoring learning to experiences. All members of the Eurekaha team, young and old have learned a great deal. Not bad for an afternoons work!