Friday, August 23, 2013

My 3 take-aways from “Design Thinking, Creative Thinking and Innovation” workshop at SPJIMR

 I got an opportunity to participate both as a student and as a co-facilitator in a 3-day workshop “Design Thinking, Creative Thinking & Innovation” held on Jul 18-20 2013 at S P Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai for teachers of Management schools in India. 57 teachers across India – from Schillong to Udaipur & from Kashipur to Trichy participated in the workshop. The workshop was co-lead by Prof. Srikant Datar of Harvard Business School & Prof. Rishikesha Krishnan of IIM Bangalore. Prof. Vidyanand Jha of IIM Calcutta was also with us as a co-facilitator. The workshop provided a perspective on challenges and opportunities on how creativity and innovation can be introduced in MBA curriculum especially in Indian context. Here are my 3 take-aways:

Creativity and innovation as a horizontal: At the end of each day, there was a discussion on how relevant such a course would be for MBA curriculum in India. This involved experience sharing from the participants and facilitators who have been teaching this course in some form or the other. Would there be a demand for such a course? Does it add value for the placement? Questions like these were raised and discussed. One thought that emerged out of this discussion was that various aspects of this course – be it design thinking or creativity or innovation – can be inserted into existing courses. In fact, some of the participants were doing this already. Prof. Atanu Ghosh (IIT Bombay), Prof. Bhaskar Bhatt (IIT Gandhinagar), Prof. Cedric Serpes (Goa Institute of Management), Prof. Dwarika Prasad (IIM Kashipur), Prof. Parag Meshram (School of Planning & Architecture, New Delhi) and Prof. Rajat Agrawal (IIT Roorkee) shared their experiences on how they had modified their marketing / strategy / design related courses to include tools and methods related to creativity & innovation. For example, Parag’s students had re-designed toilets for extreme situations such as Kumbha-mela, Dwarika’s retail marketing course involves running a café in the Kashipur campus, Rajat’s students improved the design of cycle rickshaw in Roorkee.

Experiential learning techniques: We learnt many creativity techniques by doing fun exercises. I particularly liked two exercises. In the first exercise, we had to tie our hands with a rope and the partner would do the same except that the rope would be chained with my rope. Our job as a pair was to get ourselves untangled. It looked so difficult until you know the solution. That brought me face-to-face with the knots in my thinking and highlighted the importance of framing of the question. The second exercise involved making as tall a tower as possible using 20 spaghetti sticks and a masking tape. The condition was to have a piece of marsh mellow on the top of the tower. Less than half the teams had any tower standing – let alone a tall tower. This exercise beautifully brings out my favourite principle “Doing the last experiment first”. (See the winning team and their tower of spaghetti in the picture).

Becoming an innovator & an enabler of innovation: The workshop ran two threads – one on “How to innovate effectively?” and the other thread on “How to enable innovation?” Both threads complemented each other. When you try to innovate, you appreciate the role of an enabler. And when you are trying to enable an innovation, it helps to understand the mind of the innovator. When a teacher is trying to introduce a new course, it is a form of innovation. There will be resistance to change from various stakeholders. I had a better appreciation of the complementarity of these two threads after the workshop.

Kudos to SPJIMR folks for making this workshop happen. They did an impressive job on the organization front. 


  1. Vinay, thanks for participating in the workshop and writing this up. Rishi

  2. Thank you for sharing your reflections on the workshop. My colleague and I had attended the workshop and we really benefitted from the session. We shared our learning with our colleagues and Director. We are thinking of incorporating it in our curriculum.

    Vandana Madhavkumar
    Faculty - GRGSMS

  3. Thanks!I learnt a lot and am looking forward to create a course at IIM Kashipur. One minor clarification. The student led cafe I ran at jindal university and not at IIM kashipur. Am trying for few new things here too :)
    IIM KP