Marshmallow Minds...

For the last year, I have taken a detour from the corporate world to explore various projects. To that end, I

  • attended the on-site Stanford Advanced Project Management (SAPM) program 
  • volunteered more hours at school in the capacity of a VP of the school board
  • managed an 18-month home redesign project
  • expanded my Indian classical music knowledge
  • spent more time with family and friends 

The knowledge, the insights, the friendships and the experience gained through this exploration have made a great deal of difference to me, and have now taken me back to the whiteboard to start a new, exciting journey.  

While I was taking the SAPM program in 2015, one of the courses that had the most impact on me was Project Innovation through Design Thinking (DT). I came out of the program with special DT glasses. I experimented with and experienced DT throughout the rest of my journey, which I share below. It was most fulfilling. 

While serving as the VP of the PTA Board of Directors and volunteering in classrooms, I introduced Design challenges and DT processes into school events and classroom projects. The educators, students and parent community all connected quickly through these shared experiences.   

While working on our home project, I could see the three circles of customer-centered innovation in design engineering, technology and business converging in order to achieve a positive end-user experience.

Even in the field of music education, I realized that the principles of DT can be applied. I was able to accelerate my learning process in just a few months through more experimentation. “Practice differently...not mere repetition of the same melody” was the lesson I took from this experience.    

DT begins with empathy. Empathy, for me, starts with family and friends. When my mother was diagnosed with a condition in her left cornea that would lead to blindness, she was referred to a specialist team at Stanford.  Working with the Stanford medical team was truly a humbling experience and showed me the value of a human-centered approach in healthcare.  

Undoubtedly, the journey of 2015, while wearing my new DT glasses, has truly expanded my vision. I have wondered what would have happened if I had experienced DT 20 or 30 years ago. My wish for students to be able to experience DT from an early age, to improve their chances for a better future, sparked the birth of Marshmallow Minds, a non-profit, Project Based Learning (PBL) Institute for young minds. We see ourselves serving as another “dot” in the DT connected movement, started by Stanford d.school, to inspire and build creative confidence. 

Standing at the gates of K-12 education with a vision to integrate PBL and DT into the Common Core State Standards, in order to foster experiential learning, I am excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.  We will explore the K12 education landscape in depth in order to bring clarity to the nature of the challenges K-12 education face and through experimentation, clear the clouds that obscure the execution path today.

Please check out the website, www.marshmallowminds.orgs and comment! It would be a wonderful opportunity to work with you who are able to volunteer few hours of your time to inspire and build Design Thinking in young minds! If interested, please connect!

(Posting by Harini, Founder, Marshmallow Minds)