The gift- giving challenge

In our first class of design thinking we have been given an introduction task. The challenge was to redesign the gift-giving experience for one of our classmates in less than 1h. I was working with Ed. We started off with an interview. Each of us had only 4 minutes to ask questions and grasp a general insight. I asked simple questions about the gift giving experience my classmate had recently.  He said that he loves giving presents. He always tries to make it special and focuses more on the experiences, rather than physical things. The experience he told me about was the surprise birthday present for his girlfriend. He organised an afternoon tea and a romantic walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens, a visit to the Palace and a romantic dinner in the restaurant followed by a bubble tea. Ed said that his girlfriend was more than happy and she loved the evening. Not bad, I thought. There is nothing to work on. The present he prepared was perfect… In the ‘dig deeper’ interview I asked him few more questions. For the ‘what your girlfriend doesn’t like’, the answer was ‘she hates surprises’. Wait what, seriously Ed?! I couldn’t quite believe that. It occurred that Ed’s girlfriend doesn’t like to be unprepared for the situations and likes to wear appropriate clothing to the occasion..


For me it seemed that Ed is the one who loves surprising others and that’s why he decided to prepare a day full of surprises to his girlfriend,(who hates surprises). My solution to this problem was finding a middle ground, so Ed could still surprise his girlfriend every now and then, but at the same time make her feel comfortable. My solution for the next birthday was to prepare a ‘guided surprise’. Firstly leave a note, or to make it more XXI century send a text with an information that he planned something for the evening. Secondly, prepare an appropriate outfit (which could also serve as a part of the birthday present). Later on during the date Ed could prepare another surprise like preordering a bouquet of flowers in the local flower room. Thanks to this solution Ed could still take a pride of surprising his girlfriend without stressing her out on her birthday day.

In Poland we have an old saying ‘ The wolf is full and the sheep is in one piece’, which basically means that compromise is the way to make both sides happy.


I really enjoyed this task. Even though it seemed impossible at the beginning. Firstly because of the amount of time we have been given to accomplish the task. Secondly because Ed’s way of preparing the surprised birthday present seemed perfect! There is two things I have learnt through this task. First one is that we  can never be too sure about the solution, until we really know the need of our customers. Second one that empathising with the customers is the key to the success. At the end Ed was happy with my solution and I had a lot of fun. I hope he can test the idea in the future. 😊



Plattner,H.(no year)’An indtoduction to Design Thinking’ Institute of Design Stanford Available at:

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