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Published : Tuesday, 05 May, 2015 02:43 PM


Management Education: Responding to a Changing World

BIMTECH organizes workshop on Design Thinking conducted by Prof. Srikant Datar of Harvard Business School

Prof. Srikant Datar of Harvard Business School conducted a full day workshop to address challenges facing Management Education using a Design Thinking approach. The workshop was conducted at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi on 3rd May 2015 and was attended by Directors, Deans and Faculty members from leading business schools such as the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) at Calcutta, Lucknow, Udaipur and Indore; the Indian School of Business (ISB); the S.P. Jain Institute of Management Research (SPJIMR); the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Sciences (NMIMS); International Management Institute (IMI); the Shiv Nadar University – School of Management and Entrepreneurship; the Jindal Global Business School; Foundation of Liberal and Management Education (FLAME); K.J. Somaiya School of Management; and several others.

There was also impressive participation from the corporate sector represented by senior executives from Infosys, IBM, HCL, Philips, FCB Ulka, Stryker, Panasonic, Luxury Hues, Pepsico, Intertek and several others. A team of facilitators which included Arup Mazumdar, Vinay Dabholkar, Arvind Shatdal, Partho Roy and Sunil Sangra assisted Prof. Datar.


The workshop was hosted by BIMTECH and was the result of a meeting that Dr. H. Chaturvedi, the Director of BIMTECH had with Prof. Srikant Datar at Boston in November 2014.  The thought was that it had been 5 years since Prof. Datar and his colleagues seminal book “Rethinking the MBA” had been published and it would be interesting to see what changes have taken place in Management Education since then.

In the discussions it evolved that Prof. Srikant Datar has a strong interest in Design Thinking, as does Prof. Sunil Sangra of BIMTECH who was also present during the meeting. It was then decided to conduct a workshop instead of a colloquium in New Delhi with the objective that participants actually roll-up their sleeves and work through the day in teams to generate future possibilities for Management Education using principles of Design Thinking.

The first Design Thinking principle used was of building diverse teams. Therefore participants were divided into 9 teams of about 7 members each and each team had a diverse group of participants, which included participants from Government sponsored Business Schools, private business schools, the corporate sector and recent business school graduates. Representatives from the corporate sector and recent graduates provided the ‘user’ perspective which is at the heart of Design Thinking.

Prof. Datar helped the groups develop Design principles on well structuredtemplates by sharing examples of Swiffer  - a highly successful product from Procter & Gamble that was developed using a Design Thinking approach. Prof. Datar further contextualized the workshop by illustrating how principles of Systematic Inventive Thinking were used in writing ‘Rethinking the MBA’.

These included the principles of structured creativity and innovation such as task unification, subtraction, multiplication and division as also the unstructured tools such as brainstorming. Each group identified their own challenge and design principles and thereby applied these tools to find innovative approaches. The workshop also included exercises to break fixedness in thinking.

The participants were deeply involved through the day. Dr. Ranjan Banerjee (Dean, SPJIMR) said, “This was an excellent format to find new solutions to challenges facing Management Education”. Girish Baluja (till recently the Head of Disruptive Innovation at Pepsico) said, “This was a tremendous reflection of practices that had led to proven success in numerous projects at Pepsico”. M.G. Parameswaran (Executive Director and CEO of FCB-Ulka) said that “the workshop was an excellent initiative and Prof, Srikant Datar as usual was fantastic”.

Amit Dutta (a senior alumnus of IIM-Lucknow and founder of Luxury Hues) said, “He could see how Deans and Faculty members from the Business Schools were beginning to think in new directions”.

Some of the themes that the participants worked on included:

•    Enhancing research and including students and the corporate sector in research
•    Changing the structure of the MBA program
•    Making academia ‘cool’
•    Integrating apprenticeships into the MBA programme

Prof. Datar remarked that he was delighted with the response and hoped that the business schools would take the initiative forward to generate new possibilities. A monograph is planned as an outcome of the workshop.

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