Business school is not only about finance, consulting, marketing and the traditional “business subjects.” Business school is about many things, some more obvious than others. It’s amazing how many activities are going on outside the classroom, how many cool projects, events, plenary sessions, etc there are everyday. Even so, events linked to creativity and the arts are not very common. However, I believe that INSEAD has made some advancements on the creative thinking topic, acknowledging that not only equations and frameworks will help us solve our business problems. Communication is very important, emotional and social intelligence are also very important, and that’s why Organisational Behaviour is part of our core courses (aka mandatory courses). Likewise, several electives like Psychological Issues in Management and communications’ based courses like “The Art of Communication” and “Storytelling Workshop” are also offered to help on more of the “soft skill” side of business. But how about something even more …
And thus, a few days ago we had the chance to participate in an event called “Design Day” themed “Learn to See and Sketch” organised by some students (thanks again Carolyn Wendell, Marina Sushentseva and Geri Siddik for setting up such an amazing event) with the collaboration of INSEAD professor Manuel Sosa and guest professor Rajee Vissa. From the invite, the link to business didn’t seem very obvious, but a full house was reached almost immediately, so the interest from the students was clearly there.
The “Design Day” started with a practice example on the product design process sometimes called a “Design Sprint.” The objective was to allow us to see how divergent and convergent ways of thinking can work together to fuel creativity in designing a new product. For this we have been given the task to design (and actually build) a smart phone cover to the specifications of our team members. I have to admit that here my first thought was “Why a phone cover? It’s boring”, but in the end I was amazed on how many ways there are to be creative in daily life objects that we usually overlook.
We moved on to an even more ambitious exercise. Sketching. We started drawing lines, then circles, then objects laid on our table and in the end a chair. Here also something struck me. I am the worst drawer ever. Honestly, my 5y old self drew better than I do now. And no, I didn’t become Picasso after this workshop, but I did realise a very important thing about drawing. My blockage is not on the drawing per se, but it’s actually on the seeing. It is very difficult for me to see the object in front of me and reproduce it accordingly, much more difficult than actually drawing something. So the objective of this part of the session was precisely to teach us how to see the world in a way that helps us design something creatively. It was about finding methods of perception and insight that can help us to better see how an object (or say product) can be designed. In the end we did a debrief and shared our experiences, including what we had learnt and how we would intend to use it. It was a very interesting and useful event, and I hope to be able to participate in such initiatives throughout my INSEAD experience, and maybe even see more of these in the future MBA curriculum.
For sure a few hours of experimenting won’t suffice to make us better creators or translators of our own ideas but it certainly opened our minds to some disciplines we often overlook and that can be very important in our future careers, or if nothing else, on our lives in general.