As a creative, I like to look at everything around in terms of design thinking. I admire anything that has gone through the design process. The design thinking process allows you to be efficient, transparent and focused on creating the best product possible.
My inspiration has always been people who do things in terms of design. Some of these individuals are designers by profession and others are just amazing people with brilliant minds that are able to create and innovate.
Paul Kagame is one of my biggest inspiration role model. That being said, most of us see this man as a great politician who has achieved the best for Rwanda and Africa. But I see him as one of the greatest design thinker in the world.
Before I explain why, I want to make sure that we all understand what design thinking is.
Design thinking is a creative process of problem solving. Design thinking has a human-centered core. It encourages organizations and people to focus on the people they are creating for, which leads to better products, services, and internal processes.
These are the main 3 pillars of design thinking and why Paul Kagame ticks all of them.
Empathize—Research Your Users’ Needs
The first stage of the design thinking process allows you to gain an empathetic understanding of the problem you are trying to solve, typically through using research.
After the 1994 genocide against Tutsis, Rwanda was completely demolished. There was nothing working in the country. A lot of people had different ideas on what the country needed. Paul Kagame had lived in exile and really knew the situation of Rwandans. He didn’t just jump to conclusion of what needed to be done. He created process that will allow to understand deeper the situation of Rwanda. He created a government of unity, putting everyone together to ensure that each citizen is heard. He created a decartelization leadership in aim to have everyone’s voice heard in the country. As a new country there was no other way to understand and empathize on people’s need.
Ideate—Challenge Assumptions and Create Ideas
Designers are ready to generate ideas when they reach this stage of design thinking. The solid background of knowledge from empathizing and defining the problem. It means starting to “think outside the box”, looking for alternative ways to view the problem and identify innovative solutions to the problem statement you’ve created.
This is my favorite point to discuss about. Not only that Paul Kagame created vision for the future, but he also pushed the creation of home-grown solutions. Today entire world is coming to Rwanda to learn how we have been successful in creating and reviving old traditional concepts to make them fit for the purpose. Here I will talk on the initiatives like Umuganda, Agaciro etc. which really show very brilliant solution solving for the people. Also people who knows Kagame will tell you how much he likes to be challenged with new ideas. He is always looking at innovative solution for present problems. He is not just a leader who sits and delegates. He invests his time in following up on the processes visiting places where implementations are happening and provide feedback as things are evolving. He is not just a President. He sits and draws pictures, he create vision and more importantly takes time to get feedback and understand his team.
Experimentation — Testing the ideas with prototyping.
If you are good designer you have to go through experimenting phase, with an aim of identifying the best possible solution for each problem. Try the implementation knowing that you want to achieve the most successful result possible but also willing to adopt or change when it does not work. Be able to go through alternative solutions. Always remember that your first product might not be successful but through iteration it will be.
Paul Kagame has created a very fast-moving vision for Rwanda. This really pushes the country and the people to work as fast as they can. But it does not mean that everything we try for the first time will be successful. We need to provide ourselves room of improvement and iterate. For instance, look at how many education reforms of differences policies the country has changed. They are a lot. Are we there yet? Maybe no but we are making good progress and more importantly he takes charge of ensuring that the country learns and improves faster.
A few more things to know about.