Imagine my surprise when I was invited to a ‘Knowledge Innovation Design Thinking’ Workshop to experience a tryst with perspectives to be held at the School of Inspired Leadership. That did sound out of my league. But being a creative and inquisitive person, I am always up for some learning. And so I gave it a go ahead and found myself at the School of Inspired Leadership at 5pm on 14th October 2014.
Let me tell you a bit about the School of Inspired Leadership or SOIL as it’s often called. SOIL is a business school providing holistic education that builds inspired leaders by enabling people to know who they are, recognize their purpose and realize their full potential, to build organizations of consequence.
SOIL has several Indian and International partnerships. And therein comes a partnership with Politecnico Di Milano, School of Management (MIP), Milan, Italy. The celebrated thinker Dr. Claudio Dell’Era, Assistant Professor at the aforementioned school was to hold this workshop at SOIL. Mr. Dell’Era is a world renowned authority on Design thinking and Innovation. In accordance with his world status, he is also the Co-Director MaDe In Lab, Management of Design and Innovation Laboratory, and a renowned specialist in the field of Innovation & Design Management. With a Doctorate in Management Economics and Industrial Engineering, and several publications to his credit, Dr. Dell’Era’s workshop was not to be missed. And so I found myself there.
The workshop was a 5 day affair. I happened to be there on Day II. The major learning for the day had been accomplished and now it was time to engage in some practical learning. The participants were divided by groups and had to work on how certain companies selling the same product differ. For example – a group was given United Colors of Benetton vs. Abercrombie & Fitch. A company that is well settled and one that’s coming up (in some part of the world, at least) selling the same product – clothes. Dr. Dell’Era was seen giving hints to the participants. ‘Start with the banner, what does it represent, the color, the symbol? What population does the brand target? How are the garments arranged? Are they in stacks, lined in neat rows? and so on. Participants worked in groups while Dr. Dell’Era went from one group to another giving hints and a little push to get them thinking. ‘Very innovative’, I remembered thinking to myself. I had never thought in those terms before. But well, what did I know about brand creation and management. This went on for an hour. Then the workshop was packed up for the day with an overview of the next day which included discussion on what they worked on in the practical.
And then came time for some personal interaction with the renowned Dr. Claudio. We started off with some personal details about Dr. Claudio, the association of MIP with SOIL and then went into details of innovation and design. I will admit this, sometimes I was lost and tried to gain perspective of what was going on but I managed well for the most part. We also did go on to ponder on some psychological tools that might come up to test for innovation. It set the thinking wheels rolling in my mind like an ‘aha’ moment. That does sound like something I can work on. After about an hour of this interaction, we headed for a lovely dinner and caught up with informal talk with Dr. Claudio.
Overall, it was a great evening and I came back with more knowledge than I supposed I would. I am not that dumb, I guess. But I would have to say if around 2 hours at SOIL helped me broaden my thinking, what would have been the feedback of participants attending the whole workshop? And what about students at SOIL who get exposure to teachers from all over the world? Now that does sound good, really good. If you’re looking at some leadership lessons, do check out SOIL. By the way, SOIL isn’t all about studying in the classrooms, I spied a retreat in the Himalayas, a family day, festival celebrations and what not. Go explore.