Design Thinking rolls out at SPJIMR
The S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) rolled out the Design Thinking and Innovation course for 240 participants of the two-year MBA equivalent Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) programme in January. SPJIMR simultaneously announced that Design Thinking will now be embedded across all programmes and activities of the Institute.
The course for the PGDM was delivered in a burst of 16 sessions conducted by seven faculty members over 26 hours and two-and-a-half days, and comprised class room teaching, group work exercises and a final round of presentations on the lawns of the SPJIMR campus.
Working in small teams of about five each, the participants spent several hours insighting, ideating and innovating for a prototype solution to issues they felt needed to be addressed in and around the Institute. In the end, using building blocks, clay, straws and other material, participants came up with prototypes for their ideas.
It was the first time that a compulsory course was covered across the batch in such a short burst, ending in a celebratory manner as projects were evaluated and student groups posed for selfies with the prototypes in the frame.
The plethora of ideas that emerged and the high energy levels as the final pitches were made after day-long sessions set this apart as more than just another course in the rigorous PGDM journey at SPJIMR.
SPJIMR Dean Dr. Ranjan Banerjee, who has led the initiative for embedding Design Thinking across the Institute, said: "Design Thinking is broadly an approach to problem solving which says that 'I need eclectic teams, I need rapid prototyping and I need innovation through rapid trial and error rather than a linear sequential process'. This equips our participants to solve ill-structured problems…essentially the kind of problems that students will face increasingly."
Added Dr. Suranjan Das, lead faculty for the Design Thinking course: "This is a course which helps participants to become a process expert rather than a subject expert. Immersing into the context of a customer demands high empathy and patience which participants realize through this course. Participants learn to gather deep insights by working 'with the customer' and not just 'for the customer', before they can turn in a final product or a service prototype. These skills of deep insighting actually have generic gains, and can be handy even in our daily lives amidst family and friends."
The course itself worked as a prototype, taking the learnings from the Design Thinking as delivered to the one year programme, the Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGPM), late last year. This time, the course was delivered to the largest group on campus - the PGDM.
Dr. Renuka Kamath, Chairperson, Post Graduate Executive Management Programme (PGEMP), who was among the Design Thinking faculty team, said, "There is a high degree of satisfaction on the completion of the course. There is room for improvement and we can better it, but that is the beauty of the course. In a way we are applying Design Thinking in the Design Thinking course itself."
The course marks the beginning of a journey which will see SPJIMR embed Design Thinking across the Institute and in all its initiatives and activities.
Late into the evening, as participants split into 42 groups made their final presentations, the mood was upbeat. They agreed that the course had pushed them to discover their hidden abilities and imbibed in them an attitude of 'I too can do it'.
Said Siddhant Mathur, PGDM participant, "Until now, what we were taught assumed that we were thinking correctly. This course has been disruptive in the sense that for the first time, the very way in which we think was questioned." Added PGDM participant Srutishree Choudhury, "At the start of the course, about half of us believed that we are not innovative or creative. As the course progressed, it helped us tap into our potential to come up with unique solutions."
Prof. Bindu Kulkarni, Associate Programme Head of the PGDM, said, "What is also interesting is that soon a workshop will be held that connects Design Thinking and the social sector. We will be hand-holding the participants as they apply Design Thinking in their upcoming DOCC (Department of Corporate Citizenship) projects."
Design Thinking is an addition to the series of unique pedagogic innovations that the Institute is known for, like ADMAP (Assessment & Development of Managerial and Administrative Potential), Abhyudaya, DOCC (Development of Corporate Citizenship), PGLab (Personal Growth Lab) and the Science of Spirituality.
Design Thinking is a 'human-centered' approach to problem solving which emerged at IDEO, the d-School at Stanford primarily as a systematic, immersive approach to product design. In recent years, Design Thinking has been extended to a wider category of real world problems, both in emerging and developed markets alike and is getting increasingly popular in boardrooms. The thinking and process of Design Thinking has seen widespread acceptance in leading technology and consumer product companies, among others. Currently, in developing nations, it is felt this process can also be tried out nearly as effectively to deal with issues of underserved sections of society.
Prof. Abbasali Gabula,
Ph: +91 - 9821362495
Deputy Director (External Relations & Administration)
S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research