WHAT does it take for a city to become a smart city? A future city?
Does it take best-in-class infrastructure? Rapid development? Urbanisation at breakneck speed?
Maybe not. Maybe it all just starts in the mind.
Genovasi Malaysia CEO Datuk Lee Yew Meng says, it’s the thinking behind which we approach development in Kuala Lumpur, is what will determine its direction as a world class future city.
Launched in 2012 with the creatively combined moniker of ‘generasi’ and ‘inovasi’, Genovasi Malaysia dedicates itself to the teaching of design thinking at all levels.
“Design thinking is something that develops,” Lee explains on the failure to fully utilise this cerebral asset that is often left dormant and neglected in the head.
“Why is it that the West is seen to be more progressive than the East? If you ask the Westerners, they would agree that Asians work harder,” adds Lee.
“Is it because they got yellow hair? We can dye ours. They eat a lot of potatoes? So do we, now with fast food!
“It’s because, from young, they are encouraged to think. We are encouraged to obey,” says Lee.
Lee pointed out that this change in mentality is the precursor for KL, and other Malaysian cities, to evolve to first tier cities.
According to him, this is the most essential building block of innovation. And of course, it needs to start from the very early stages of education.
“In the West, their stress is not on passing exams. The stress is on building creativity,” he says.
He cites an example where Europeans educate their infants by just leaving them with a bucketful of Lego.
“Instead of teaching the child what to build, you just throw (the Lego) there, you come back two hours later, you’ll be very pleasantly surprised,” says Lee.
Lee says when it comes to construction and development, no matter how vague the link may seem, we need to realise that this same principle applies.
This is especially at a time when innovation is needed more than ever to solve construction woes like affordable housing, where the foresight of authorities has been left wanting.
“Real innovation hasn’t sunk in with the top administrators.
“Administrators must agree that it doesn’t matter if every year you don’t have anything to exhibit. But if it’s the third year, you got something that’s real killer, we want that,” says Lee.
Lee says, this is the mission that he and D-School Malaysia have set out to achieve.
“We would like to talk to architects, city planners, developers, people involved in the process, and challenge them to just do it differently,” he says.
Despite the naysayers, he remains confident that design thinking is the key to take the development of KL to the next level.
“It gives out the full potential of what is there. In doing so, we are unleashing the creativity.
“Hopefully it will lead to a nation of thinkers,” he says.
Datuk Lee Yew Meng will be at SLIC 2018, speaking about how design thinking will shape the development of “future KL”.
To catch him and many other local and international experts, sign up now at www.slic.my.