Reframing Design Thinking in complex times: opening up the practice

Design thinking is an approach and mindset to creative problem-solving that’s gaining traction, especially in addressing complex societal issues. The work of the d-school Afrika is a local example of this practice. Through a range of diverse programmes over the past 8 years, the d-school’s work has been highly regarded, earning praise from many programme participants and partners alike.

However, in parallel with the development of the practice, there are increasing calls to consider our work  more critically, to re-frame and even to re-imagine it. Much of the criticism stems from the fact that many of the techniques and models used in design thinking come from contexts in the global North, . This has prompted us to ‘open up the practice’, enabling us to re-think and adapt our approach.

This is where the d-school Afrika’s Design Dialogues come into the picture. This is one way to respond to these calls for a critical  examination of the work. Envisaged as ‘deep dives’ into the practice of design thinking, the d-school Afrika is planning four dialogues for 2024 offering a space for engagement and reflection with a wide range of stakeholders.

Our first session will feature a conversation between leading design thinkers from Kenya, the USA, and South Africa, offering diverse perspectives and insights. We will hopefully draw from their vast experience about key moments that challenged the way they have practiced design thinking, in addition to how they have imparted their knowledge through design thinking education. The programme will encourage audience questions and participation.

Please join us on

Tuesday, 23 April 2024

from 17:30 for 18:00 to 19:30

at the d-school Afrika.

It promises to be an important and robust engagement focused on some key  questions in the field. The dialogue will be followed by some refreshments to keep the conversation going.

We hope to see you there!




George Kembel is an entrepreneur, educator and investor. He co-founded and led the Stanford, scaling it from an idea on a napkin to a world-renowned institution for innovation impacting hundreds of millions of lives, generating billions of dollars in economic value and ushering in a wider global design thinking movement. He now works with leaders and investors around the world to reshape the way we design our organizations, technologies and cultures to unlock diverse human capacities, increase adaptability and resilience, accelerate breakthroughs and foster greater creative flourishing at scale.



Prof. Mugendi K. M’Rithaa is a Senator and past President of the World Design Organization (WDO) and presently works at Machakos University, Kenya. He studied in Kenya, the USA, India, and South Africa. He is widely travelled and has taught in Kenya, Botswana, Canada, India, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and Uganda and is passionate about various expressions of socially responsible design, including Design Thinking, Designerly Strategies for Mitigating Climate Change, Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability, Distributed Renewable Energy, Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), Participatory/Co-Design, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Transportation and Universal/Inclusive Design.


Nailah Conrad

Nailah Conrad, Programme Lead at the d-school Afrika, holds a PhD in Medical Biochemistry from UCT. She teaches design thinking at the School of International Training Graduate Institute, USA, and previously led the MPhil in Health Innovation at UCT, fostering empathy-driven innovation to tackle South Africa's healthcare challenges.


Maurisa Moloto

Maurisa Moloto, Programme Lead at the Hasso Plattner d-school Afrika, holds an impressive academic background with a UCT BSc. (Hons) in Allied Health, an MPhil in Inclusive Innovation from the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) and Social Entrepreneurship from GIBS. Recognised as a Fix Scholar and Valedictorian at GIBS SEP, as well as a Bertha Scholar at the UCT GSB, she founded the Lefika Foundation Social Enterprise in 2018. With expertise in facilitating learning spaces and systems change, Maurisa is deeply immersed in creating lasting change, focusing on mindset shifts and leveraging education as a transformative tool for impactful best practice.


Tiego Monareng

Tiego Monareng, Programme Lead and Coach at the d-school Afrika at UCT, leverages a background in architecture and design with extensive experience in design thinking workshops across sectors and international conferences. Tiego is passionate about youth culture and enjoys the diverse perspectives d-school Afrika students bring. He finds fulfilment in experimenting with ideas and prototyping impactful solutions with participants.

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