Innovation at BSL: NAVINTA – Matching University students with rural communities in need

Edited by: Dr. Aileen Ionescu-Somers, Gap Frame Week designer and orchestrator

Blogpost by BSL Spring Gap Frame Week Student Group 5: Adelaide-Ioli
Eliopoulos, Arshia Soltani, David Chopuuryan, Jose Carreras-Medina, Moulaye El
Hassen, Nikita Safronov, Oleksandr Kryachko, Saveliy Danilov, Suchi Dubey

“Education is the passport to the future,
for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

-Malcolm X

This blog is mainly devoted to the teamwork issues related to our experience ofΣτιγμιότυπο 2018-05-03, 9.53.42 π.μ.
the Gap Frame Week (GFW) that has become such an essential part of the BSL community life. During this highly innovative week, we raise important questions about some of the world’s greatest environmental and social challenges. We share, reflect upon, and discuss possible solutions to these dilemmas, AND we develop a prototype of a solution. Being honest, sometimes we even get quite carried away and there are lots of different opinions – sometimes even raised voices – amongst the team members.

As Team 5, we decided to focus during the Spring 2018 GFW on the lack of equal opportunity for education and self-development. We came up with the idea of Navinta, which is the creation of a knowledge database using algorithm software to match University students with rural communities in need, and to empower them as educators of elementary school students. In order to create a successful concept prototype, which would contribute to equal opportunity for education, we needed to work as a team, as one organism. This short blog entry will talk about our experience during the week, our team chemistry and the way we worked together.

Our overall conclusion from our GFW experience is that the key to team success
lies in the creation of an original community, where everyone’s ideas are valued and represented. In order to find the right group chemistry, it is essential to get to know
each other, and to learn to respect each team member. Luckily,Στιγμιότυπο 2018-05-03, 9.56.15 π.μ. every member of our team knew each other before working on this project, but we were not very close. Therefore, we had to get to know each other better so we could operate better. The “Ice breaker” activity on the first day helped us to achieve this. The “Ice breaker” is an easy exercise, in which team members interview and introduce each other. It consists of 5 questions, to be answered by each team member within one minute each. During this session, even though we already knew each other, we still connected on another level. During the icebreaker time, we each drew symbols that represented the others (their characters and personalities, or what we knew about them). Even though it seemed as a simple task, we found it to be quite challenging. These symbols revealed a lot about each member of the group and helped us to get a better understanding of each other. Every member shared what he/she meant by the symbol, the idea and the meaning behind it. It was a crucial step on our way to finding the perfect team chemistry.

Respect, listening skills, and commitment (with an added ingredient of humor) in what we believe are necessary tools to create a warm and productive working atmosphere. The fact that we had a chance to self-organize as a team, had an immensely positive impact on our working process. Everything we did during the GFW, even when we were procrastinating, researching, interviewing, developing our posters or presentations, watching or making videos or even…. dancing, helped us to connect and as a result we feel we presented an inspired piece of work on the final day of the week.

Even after the working days were over, some of our team members met up, went out together, had dinner, and had some fun, which all helped up to bond even more. Even though those activities were not connected to the work at all – during the time we went out we did not talk about our project at all – it still had a positive effect on the chemistry of our team and we were able to work better together the following day.

At the end of the day, there really is no “I” in team and it  is crucial that every team member understands that. We are convinced that nothing is more vital to success than the team spirit.Στιγμιότυπο 2018-05-03, 9.57.42 π.μ.

In this blogpost, we have not talked
much about our solution, preferring to report on some of the team building aspects of the week. But watch this space for more news about NAVINTA and how it develops when we work on it further during GFW 4 from 14 to 20 May, 2018.

Until then, signing out, Group 5!

 

 

BSL Gap Frame Innovation Week, Spring 2018: Is the world all set for MySet?

Blog by Dr. Aileen Ionescu-Somers with video blog by Student Group 2: Anastasiya Markova, Armen Danielyan, James Polit, Julia Bogle, Mathis Chailleux, Napat Suttaponga, Umar Kalanov, Vasily Zhuraviev, Victor Marinescu.

As promised, this is the first of several blogs relating to student output from our Spring Gap Frame Week 2018 prototyping exercise. We want our readers to share in the “buzz” that these weeks create within BSL. And we hope to inspire some of you also. Please refer to this article to understand more in detail what the BSL Gap Frame Week is all about. The short explanation is that the Gap Frame Week is an opportunity for our students to work on prototyping solutions and even start-ups addressing some of the world’s most formidable sustainability dilemmas. In Spring 2018, the students tackled social issues.

Of the eight groups that presented early prototypes of solutions to world social issues, an expert faculty panel on Day 5 felt that Group 2: MySet ticked many boxes in terms of the potential outreach and impact of the idea, if marketed carefully and in the right way.

So what is the concept idea that was prototyped, MySet, all about? In innovation, the best place to start is always with the problem the solution is trying to solve. Group 2 decided to address Education as the social issue worthy of their attention. Their research indicated that students in developing countries often do not have enough seating in their school classrooms. Small children often squeeze into cramped desks, several at a time, or even have to sit on the floor to attend their classes. India is a case in point where 75% of schools in rural areas have this problem. This leads to difficulties concentrating and learning, and even to longer-term physical problems since students are forced to sit in unnatural positions.

What proposed solution did Group 2 come up with? The MySet concept proposes an affordable, light, adjustable chair set made from recycled material. If marketed to the right target audience (obviously, since parents are too poor to afford such a solution, charitable foundations, NGOs and aid agencies would be an interesting target), MySet has the potential to be an interesting proposition. Clever idea. Let’s see how Group 2 does in developing this early prototype into a full blown start-up ready to attract investor interest, with a corresponding exhibition space during our next GFW in May.

The video blog produced by the Group 2 students listed above gives an idea of the journey they took to arrive at their final prototype. Click HERE to view; enjoy!

 

Ionescu-AileenPICTURE-150x150Author: Dr. Aileen Ionescu-Somers

Gap Frame Week designer and orchestrator

Are you interested in having your community of learners fully engaged?

Three dimensional learning — I, WE and ALL OF US, pedagogy for Sustainability and Responsibility.

Are you interested in having your community of learners fully engaged? A good start could be to spell out the purpose of the education you want to be part of.

For us at Business School Lausanne (BSL) the purpose of education is to support and foster responsible leadership and sustainable business. Responsibility and sustainability are in no way similar to the typical functional business and management education areas such as finance, marketing, human resources, strategy, operations or others. In fact they add a layer of learning, even more than a layer, you can think of it as part of the DNA of the learning. How can you learn about business and management if you want responsibility and sustainability to be in the DNA of the learning you design?

I think most of us have experienced some great learning in our life. If such learning has stayed with you for long and has somehow helped your transformation, evolution, development, it may well have been what I call a three dimensional learning. The three dimensions I am talking about are the I, WE and ALL OF US. What does this mean?

It means that the transformational learning can only happen when we discover how what we are learning is connected to the three dimensions:

The I — How is this relevant to me? What are my own struggles with the topic? What is my emotional connection to it? Do I have personal experiences?

The WE — What are the main stakeholders related to the topic? What is their perspective? What do they know and how do they use their knowledge? Are there competing or collaborating views, or both? How do I work with them so that there is not them but only we?

The ALL OF US — What is the systemic use and impact of the topic? What scenarios does the topic create? How does it impact our world in some or all four dimensions — planet, society, economy and governance?

Learners that are taken through the three dimensions develop a comprehensive understanding of the topic from the systemic level (ALL OF US) down to the personal relevance (I), through the application in the relevant communities (WE).

Learning through the I dimension ensures that the learner explores and uncovers the areas of personal relevance of the topic. Here some suggestions for learning designers/facilitators who want to ensure a good dive into the I space:

  • Using blocks of 3 or more hours of learning experience ensure the right variety of activities can take place including reflective spaces.
  • Being a role model in the “I” space and finding the balance with neutral facilitating energy
  • Organizing regular self-awareness gathering for Faculty and Students (breakfasts, lunches, apero’, walks, etc.)
  • Circle sharing of personal check-in into the session/lecture/course with questions like:” What do I expect from this session?” (1 minute per person)
  • Trio-walks where 1 person in the middle has 5 minutes to share his/her personal reflections around the topic and 2 persons on the side are listening and providing 2 minutes feedback each (total 10 minutes)
  • Pair talks around deep questions where strangers get to know something very meaningful about the other (15 mins each). Each will then present the other in front of the audience (up to 90 minutes)
  • Speed dating with a few personal questions with 1 minute per exchange (30 mins)
  • Journaling activities to support acknowledgment of learning and walk-aways (ongoing)
  • Storytelling where a person stands in front of a semi-circle and share an insightful personal story around the topic (10 minutes per story + 10 minutes Q&A)
  • Group brainstorming using post-it to gather what each individual expect to learn and then cluster learning macro-areas
  • MANY OTHERS!!!

Learning through the WE dimension ensures that the learner understand the complexity of the topic by exploring the different interest and perspective of the multiple stakeholders relevant to the topic. The learner also understand the optimal ways to interact in the community. Here some suggestions:

  • Role play where each group of three learners must impersonate the role of one different stakeholder. 1 hour is dedicated to researching key information to understand the crucial points of this stakeholder perspective. The facilitator uses the following hour to host and moderate a debate around key targeted questions among the stakeholders. Finally an additional hour is dedicated to reflection activities and harvesting the complexity of the topic. (3 hours)
  • World cafe with different tables for different stakeholder perspective and teams rotating to ensure maximum contribution and learning from the different perspectives
  • Running Collaboratory dialogues inviting different representatives from all the various stakeholders
  • Certainly this is the space where business is learnt from a customer perspective, service provider, product manufacturer and so on. Most of more “traditional” learning happens in this space
  • Business simulation, gamification, etc.
  • MANY OTHERS!!!

Learning through the ALL OF US dimension ensures the learner can see the systemic dynamics that the topic triggers. Dimensions like planet, society, economy and governance are explored in their interconnections and relevance to the topic. Typical activities that a facilitator can run include:

  • Watching documentaries that beautifully show the complexity and interconnections of our world
  • Working with interactive scenario simulations
  • Connecting via Skype or other platforms with other learners from very different areas of the world where the topic is experienced in radically different ways and exchange experiences in forms of reciproc questions
  • Using Issue Centered Learning where the starting topic is always a major issue of the world that can be picked for instance on www.gapframe.org a very useful, tool we have developed at BSL. Learners are then invited to explore their personal connection with the issue. Business is then looked at as being part of the solution and/or part of the problem. Functions of business and management are then identified as instrumental to drive the shift from being part of the problem to being part of the solution. Business is then understood and appreciated for what it is, an incredible generator of solutions and — unfortunately too often, problems
  • MANY OTHERS!!!

Clearly all the above introduced dimensions and activities can be complemented with other forms of active and passive learning. Expert views and lectures can and should still happen but should be well integrated in the three dimensions and serve the broader purpose of each dimension. When designing learning spaces you can start thinking of different roles that should be present in the space. For instance:

  • The Expert. These can be faculty, researchers, entrepreneurs, citizens, students that have a deep expertise relevant to the topic.
  • The Facilitator. These are skilled facilitators who can ensure learning continue to evolve from activity to activity in the best possible self-organized way. Facilitators refrain from interfering with opinions and expertise, it is not their role.
  • The Coach. Learning happens so differently within all of us and often encounters any sort of barriers on its way. Coaches can be peer learners that simply have earned some skills to support others in their individual learning journeys. Coaching is about asking the right questions in these cases and also offering a listening partner.
  • The Participant. You can think of this category as the one closer to the typical student. Yet, there is no way a participant would be engaged in passive learning. Learning is participative and contribution is expected. The great opportunity is that participant can switch to coach, to facilitator or to expert at any given opportune time.

Hey, how are you after reading this? Did it move something inside you? Do you also think it is time and it is possible to redesign modern learning spaces that can help us taking care of ourselves and our dear world? If you are curious to know more and join a vision for a new business and management education, go and visit www.50plus20.org.

Let me know what you think and I would love to engage in conversations around reinventing education together.

Let a new purposeful market grow around jobs and competencies that count and will make the world a better place!

Note: this article has been published by Carlo Giardinetti on Medium

Author: Carlo GiardinettiActive in Program Development, Holacracy and directing the E/MBA programs Business