Creating the Next Big Thing – IDK Workshop for EMBA Program of CUHK

(12-13 Jan & 19-20 Jan 2019)

The value of innovation in business is reiterated frequently. The successful stories of tech giant Apple or even the revival of traditional consumer goods corporation like P&G, all illustrate the pivotal role of creativity in creating business values. But when it comes to practice, few business executives in Hong Kong can comprehend the know-how of innovation or understand how to unleash the true potential behind. To promote design thinking in business, an IDK workshop was organised for CUHK's EMBA students in mid-January as part of their curriculum.

Co-organised by the Institute of Design Knowledge (IDK) of Hong Kong Design Centre and the EMBA program of CUHK Business School, with support from Explorium HK and the Fung Academy, the workshop series is a two-weekend journey guiding students through their first experience with design thinking. Through the ideation sessions, field work and lectures, they became acquainted with design thinking frameworks. They were then given a chance to practice by proposing new solutions for local social issues and creating new business opportunities.

“IDK has been organising design thinking workshops for our students for several consecutive years already. Instead of focusing on the financial or technological side, the innovation strategy taught here centres around user experience. People can easily empathise with the solution and adopt it.” said Prof. Dora Lau, Associate Director of the Centre of Entrepreneurship, CUHK.

An essential course on design planning was introduced to these business executives by Prof. Vijay Kumar from Illinois Institute of Technology in the first weekend. They experienced the stages of design thinking by developing creative ideas for two real-life social issues – waste management and elderly care. The students adopted a human-centred approach by putting themselves in the shoes of the stakeholders and analysed where the pain points are. Among the innovations were an app providing across-the-board recycling information, and a new mode of elderly homes allowing seniors to take an active role in the community.

In the second weekend, Prof. Paul Hekkert from Delft University of Technology engaged the students to propose new concepts of play based on a business case sharing by Toys”R”Us Asia under the Fung Retailing Group. They sourced for inspirations by studying behavioural insights in a field research and worked in groups to analyse interactions around the topic. Then they came up with original innovations envisioning the future of play. Prof. Hekkert shared that business is not just about making profit. It has a purpose and a reason of existence. Companies need to define their world view and offer products or services reflecting that particular vision. A good company should be selective of what they do.

Many EMBA students were thrilled about what they brought home from the workshop. One of the students Chris Ng shared, “I work in aviation engineering. I will bring design thinking back to my workplace and invite customers to join our ideation sessions.” He expected improvements in the customer experience coming at a minimum cost. Prof. Lau also remarked, “for these business executives, doing things in a new way that goes against conventional methods will require some practice and unlearning. But I'm confident that they can drive good business innovations in their workplaces with continual effort.”