Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Designing tomorrow's leaders - the Design Leadership Workshop

The Design Leadership Workshop

The 1st Design Leadership Workshop was held on the 3rd – 5th of June 2010. I am pleased to report that it was a smashing success. We had a total of 35 participants from companies like the Future group, TVS motors, EWDPL, Quetzel, Redlime (Sri Lanka), Bonnie & Clyde café, Oxylane (France), People Combine, TCS, 24/7, Life Spring hospitals, Ganjam, Orchard advertising, Frame of mind, Insight academy, Titan and a few others. It was a three day workshop followed by an after-party and networking session. Initially, we had limited the number of seats to 25, but due to the overwhelming response we received, the limit was extended.

The workshop was primarily aimed at entrepreneurs, marketing people, communication teams, key decision makers, senior management and other key people. This workshop was not aimed at designers; instead we wanted leaders and decision makers to train them how to use design thinking in mentoring their teams in the effort of developing new business opportunities and markets. Dr. Carlos Teixeira led the workshop, making it a fun learning experience for everyone.

Day 1 started at 9:30 am on the 3rd, with the participants meeting each other over breakfast. Carlos started the introductory session shortly after that, with a welcome note and a talk on design competence and leadership. After that, there was a case-study presentation by Idiom. Later on, the participants were divided into groups of 5 and 6. Their task (over the next couple of days as well) was to create an idea and develop it into a feasible business plan. They were given magazine cut-outs, sketch pens, chart paper, post-its and even assigned 2 designers per team to make their process easier and more fun. The ideas and plans that resulted from this were simply brilliant. We had also organized tours of Idiom so that everyone could get a feel of our wonderful campus.

There were 5 modules throughout the workshop.
1. Module 1 was mapping behavior, profile and needs.
2. Module 2 was Speculating ‘what if’ scenarios.
3. Module 3 was Project staffing: the borderless innovation enterprise.
4. Module 4 was Project planning: create, preserve and destroy.
5. Module 5 was Organize to innovate: connect and design.

Various aspects of design and business were covered in these modules across three days. Numerous examples, success stories, case studies, presentations and lectures supplemented these modules.

Through the workshop the participants learned the following:
• Language and strategies for developing and evaluating new business ideas.
• Techniques for understanding users and their needs in order to identify opportunities for business innovation.
• Collaborative techniques for defining the characteristics that make a product, service, brand, and business desirable and successful.
• Key phases, milestones, and decisions involved in designing new businesses
• Building up capacities to simulate and evaluate demands for new products, services, and brands.
• Improving “soft skills” in creativity, imagination and story telling.
• Developing “design habits” to become innovative thinkers.
• Developing abilities to implement a culture of innovation in their organization or teams.

Coming back to the business plans that the teams developed, we watched these plans evolve from mere, fun ideas into viable business options. I sincerely hope that some of the participants will meet again after this and take their plans forward. There were ideas like roti, kapda aur makaan.com which was a website that helps you set up your life. There was an idea for an airline that offers a whole bunch of services aimed at the first time flyer and many more fun ideas like starting a ‘green youth club’, taking city services (like a beauty parlor, fashion etc) to rural areas and even an organization to help house maids out.

The third day was a bit different. We were joined by the following business leaders for the afternoon session:
1. Mr. Kanwaljit Singh from Helion Ventures
2. Mr. Goindi from TVS motors
3. Mr. Srinivas from TVS motors
4. Mr. Rahul Balachandra from YLG
5. Mr. Rajasekhar from People Combine
6. Mr. Fernando from EXPO industrial group (Sri Lanka)
7. Mr. Nishanka from Redlime (Sri Lanka)
8. Mr. Kush Medhora from EWDPL
9. Mr. Arjun Baljee from Peppermint hotels

They were joined by Jacob Mathew, Sonia Manchanda and Girish Raj from Idiom to lead the panel discussion and critique the various business plans that were presented by the various groups. This session was a pretty energetic one with arguments and suggestions flying all over the room. The panel as well as the participants had interesting takes on the different business plans. Unfortunately, we were pressed for time, so every group was given 15 minutes to present their case and collect feedback. Following this was our open house session. We had a total of 15 speakers (business leaders, participants as well as our very own Idiom-ites) presenting various cases, success stories and information on the organizations they came from. The speaker were given a 7 minute speaking slot each (again due to the constraint of time, although we’d have loved to hear more). There were a range of topics like Pawan from the Future group presenting the Big Bazaar success story, Rahul presenting the YLG success story, Elisa and Guillaume sharing some information on Oxylane, Kush presenting the EWDPL case study etc.

We had a small graduation ceremony for all the participants at the end of the workshop. They were each presented with a certificate and a SPREAD stole. The after-party was a lot of fun as well. The participants along with people from Idiom danced late into the night. It was a great workshop with amazing sessions, delicious food and a killer after-party. We were lucky to have such an eclectic, energetic and diverse bunch of participants.

This isn’t the end of SPREAD. We have a workshop for children on the 9th of June and another one for the employees of TVS motors on the 10th. We hope the next workshop will be as successful as this one was. Watch this space for news on SPREAD and our future initiatives. So, until next time then.

Posted by Rahul

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