Supporting and empowering young calibers to become entrepreneurs. Rowad 2030 Project

A true pleasure to have been invited (as a faculty and expert in the field of Design Thinking) by the University of Cambridge to teach in the MSc in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management in Cairo the week of March 4, 2019. The Master’s program falls under the umbrella of the Rowad 2030 Project (entrepreneurs 2030). The project (which is the result of the join efforts of ministries of planning, education and trade and also the result of a successful partnership between the public and private sectors, as it involves the participation of Bank Misr, National Bank of Egypt, British Council, Cairo University’s Faculty of Economics and Political Science and University of Cambridge) targets at enhancing the capabilities of young calibers to achieve comprehensive economic and social development, which will help in realizing the main goals of the country’s sustainable development strategy “Egypt 2030”. The curriculum on entrepreneurship taught by experts in the field has as a main goal to create a new generation of Egyptian entrepreneurs.

More specifically and as far as my participation in the program is concerned, the module I taught, titled: “4-Step Creative Problem Solving for Business. A framework for Customer-Centric Innovation”, had as a main goal that participants embrace a truly customer-centric mindset and use the framework for Customer-Centric Innovation. In order to do so, the module was designed as if the class was a studio-workshop and we followed the DT methodology through its 4 steps. Multidisciplinary groups were formed based on the four profiles (clarifiers, ideators, developers, implementers) in order to maximize the results and four challenges were addressed, namely:

  1. Minimizing/eliminating traffic jams in the center of cities.
  2. Aging population. Getting old…living alone.
  3. Getting sick while being abroad.
  4. Eliminating the paradox of choice (when more is less).

The process we followed is summarized in the following lines.

We started with a clean slate, asking what the problem was and for whom. In this phase, Mind mapping was used to get to the problem’s roots. Once the problem to be solved was clearly defined (Innovation intent), we moved on to sketch the typical user suffering the problem we wanted to solve (we created what is named a “persona”) with a view to: (i) identifying new opportunities for enhancing solutions; (ii) yielding new insights. The aim was to go beyond the kind of demographic data found in classical marketing’s segmentation exercises. We made the effort to put ourselves in his/her shoes and go on with the objective of identifying the user’s ‘pain points’ in his daily life, weirdness, contradictions and needs (explicit, implicit and latent). These areas of friction, disappointment, undesired trade-offs and needs were dealt with at the next stage.

Applying the ‘What if’ approach, we let our imaginations take wing and focus on generating candidate solutions without passing judgment. We then sifted through the ideas using a decision matrix, which enabled us to center on the ideas with greatest potential to add value.

Participants were asked to make drawings and “work like” and “look like” prototypes as a way of presenting each group’s ideas to the others and to get their feedback. Groups used the feedback to tweak their solutions and present an action plan.

You can see some photos taken while the workshop was underway to get an idea of the dynamics. If you wish to receive more information about how the process flows, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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