10 Ways The Beanstalk Creative™ Design Thinking Workshop develops 21st Century Competencies

Posted by on Dec 4, 2014 in Commentaries | 0 comments


Best known for her work for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals Cats (1981), The Phantom of the Opera (1986) and Aspects of Love (1990), Gillian Barbara Lynne, ballerina, dancer, theatre director and choreographer was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) on the 2014 New Year Honours List.

Lynne’s gift for dancing was discovered by a doctor. She had been underperforming at school, so her mother took her to the doctor and explained about her fidgeting and lack of focus. After hearing everything her mother said, the doctor told Lynne that he needed to talk to her mother privately for a moment. He turned on the radio and walked out. He then encouraged her mother to look at Lynne, who was dancing to the radio. The doctor noted that nothing was wrong with Lynne’s learning capabilities but that she was a dancer, and encouraged Lynne’s mother to take her to dance school.

This story of Dame Gillian Barbara Lynne highlights the fact that each and every one of us may approach learning from a different starting point based on our unique make-up and talents. While some of us may explore our world through an inquisitive mind, some do so through inquisitive eyes, some do so through inquisitive ears, while yet others do so through an inquisitive body.

This core value and spirit of learning “Bringing Out the Best in Every Child” underpins the Ministry Of Education’s Framework for 21st Century Competencies announced in April this year.

The Beanstalk Creative™ Design Thinking Workshop helps to develop 21st Century Competencies in the following 10 Ways:



1.  To evoke the PASSION for Life, Passion to CREATE and the Passion to SERVE through one’s Creations

a creative and innovative way of lifeKnowledge and skills must be underpinned by values. Values define a person’s character. They shape the beliefs, attitudes and actions of a person, and therefore form the core of the framework of 21st Century Competencies.” Three core values of design thinking that aligns with those of 21st Century Competencies are “Passion”, “Create” and “Serve”.  At The Beanstalk Creative™ Design Thinking Workshop, while we strive to share stories of some of the most passionate and creative inventors and innovators in the world, we also strive to celebrate the little successes and small creations of everyday life.  What we do and make for each other connects us to one another and to our greater community.  The sharing of a simple home-cooked meal, one of the humblest of creations, could bring about immense joy and bonding.  We strive to excite participants to the joy of creation over the joy of consumption.  This is done through subtle invitations to create such as the provision of simple play-dohs tubs on workshop tables, invitation to doodle through an exercise and highlighting how an overly self-critical assessment of what we make (as well as what others may make for us) could hamper our passions for creation and our passions to serve.


2. To look at Events and Issues from the “You” rather than the “I” Perspective

A critical aspect of The Beanstalk Creative™ Design Thinking Workshop is using empathy to understand the needs and the feelings of people affected by what we do, be it through the business solutions we provide, our work, behaviour, words and/or our thoughts.  An important exercise in our design thinking workshop allows participants to understand how we can make a conscious choice to react to any events and situations through a “You” rather than an “I” perspective. We creatively make use of exercises and activities in empathy to bring across the message that different people will experience the same event in different ways because of their unique circumstances: where they are physically and emotionally situated during the event, as well as how and to what degree the event affects them. The workshop also shows participants how we could, by making a conscious decision about the way we think, on our choice of words and our reactions could bring about positive outcomes.

3. Engaging with a Problem from Multiple Perspectives

Examine from Multiple Perspectives - a 21st Century CompetencyDuring one of our many design thinking workshops with students, a Beanstalk Creative™ facilitator made a tweak to a classic game that became our favourite for highlighting the importance of engaging a Problem from Multiple Perspectives.  You would all know the classic “fold the newspaper” game, popular amongst trainers for team-bonding or as an ice-breaker.  Through an omission in our instructions, a group of students created a unique way of maintaining contact with the newspaper such that they were able to fold the newspaper to an incredibly small size!  Exercises like this bring across the point of how understanding a problem differently could bring about different ways of solving it!  This underscores the importance of engaging with a problem from multiple perspectives when trying to solve it.

4. Collecting and Examining Multiple Points of Views

A core technique we share at our design thinking courses involves the collection of multiple points of views.  Making use of card-facilitated thinking methods, we highlight the reasons for the use of such methods:

i) everyone has a voice and that voice should be heard

ii) even if you may have many brilliant ideas, others may have one you did not think of

iii) when everyone is heard, everyone feels, when everyone shares, everyone contributes

iv) tapping everyone’s brains not only increases the chances of getting good ideas but build a conducive environment for teamwork and bonding




5. Making use of both Linear as well as Non-Linear Inquiry-based Approaches

Emotive Content for Design Thinkers SingaporeDesign thinking approaches a problem in a holistic manner and with the end goal in mind. At our design thinking workshops, participants can learn how to phase problems into different segments and learn how to solve these through cycles of analysis, i.e. linear analytical based approach and synthesis i.e. non-linear inquiry-based approach until a final satisfactory result is achieved.

6. Develop Critical and Inventive Thinking Capabilities and Stretching the Imagination

Developing critical and inventive thinking capabilities is one of the core strengths of The Beanstalk Creative™ Design Thinking Workshop.  We make use of several of our in-house developed tools which adopts characters from the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale to convey the key messages as well as encompass the techniques of critical and inventive enquiries.  An example is the use of the SACRED COW tool which is a design thinking technique that challenges assumptions.  The MAGICBEANS and GOLD COINS are other design thinking tools and techniques that stretch the imagination and build core 21st Century Competencies.

7. Develop Critical and Inventive Thinking Capabilities through Making Novel Connections

In making use of the various design thinking tools, one critical skill is the drawing of insights through making novel connections.  During one of our training sessions while making use of the MAGICBEANS tool, one particular cheeky student suggested that the toilet is the ideal place in the world where he could imagine he would want to be instead of at school.  When challenged to use the qualities of the toilet to solve the problem students face at the school canteen, this student amazed himself and everyone else by drawing out the unique qualities of “peace” and “tranquillity” to tackle the issues of crowdedness and chaos at the school canteen.  The group then went on to examine possible ideas to achieve these qualities.  The power of novel connections as an inventive thinking capability is very well illustrated by this example.

8.  Examining Solutions from an Analysis of Cost versus Return

Developing Real World Solutions with Imagination  is a 21st Century CompetencyCaught up in their enthusiasms, young people very often come up with a solution so elaborate, that the severity of the problem might not warrant the elaborateness of the solution.  A good example of this is the idea to use robots and other automatic machines to clear rubbish and litter from the classrooms and school compounds.  It is important not to kill the enthusiasm when trying to impart a sense of reality and authenticity of the world.  Our design thinking course achieves this by allocating different time for different thinking spaces and allowing free flow of thoughts during each of these spaces.  In design thinking, the time to feel is termed the Inspiration space, the time to imagine is termed the Ideation space whereas the time to be realistic, is known as the Implementation space.  One of the tools of the Implementation space is THE AXE that was used by Jack to cut down the Beanstalk in the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale.  As a tool, it looks at ideas and examined ways to simplify the solution, remove unnecessary steps and reduce the cost in order to maximise the return or to justify the cost.  When making use of the tools and answering the questions of the tool, students very often are able to come to their conclusion about the feasibility of their proposals and make the necessary adjustments and tweaks to their ideas without having to be told.  The key here through the use of the design thinking tool is that the students are able to come to the conclusion themselves.

9. Examining Solutions and Understanding Stakeholders’ concerns through Scanning existing Technologies, Prototyping and Role-Playing

Similarly used in the Implementation space, THE GIANT tool assists participants to understand the constraints of the real world through scanning existing technologies, prototyping, as well as understand stakeholder concerns through role-playing.  THE GOLDEN-EGG LAYING HEN examines the possibility of automating the steps or remove any human inadequacies from a solution.  The capability to apply imaginative ideas to authentic real world situations is one of the core 21st Century Competencies.  The three tools “The Axe”, “The Giant” and “The Golden Egg-Laying Hen” can help develop this capability.

10. Making informed Decisions and Dealing with Open-Ended Situations

The Beanstalk Creative™ Design Thinking suite of tools and techniques is a comprehensive set of thinking and working aid to solve complex problems and dealing with open-ended situations allowing us to make informed decisions after covering the necessary grounds through analysis as well as imagining possible solutions through synthesis.  Within the suite of tools,  THE BEANSTALK is a tool that enables the preparation and planning of the thinking and working process towards informed decision-making.  It also provides us with a useful reminder that no problem or situation can be too difficult or too complex to address as long as we “think big, start small and grow fast!”



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