Design and Innovation

Ying Zhang & Chao Xia

RBS MBA Class of 2018


        On the flight back to Beijing from Yale, getting brief respite from intensive design and innovation hands-on activities as a Global network week participant, it’s a perfect chance to reflect on the whole week to ponder how we could better remember the wonderful time. Let's start from the beginning:

Explore Yourself over the North Pole.

New York was chosen as a transit station. On one hand, we would like to warm up for the coming anticipated week; on the other hand, to explore the world of their new president.

Here is New York City, like poetry: “it compresses all life, all races and breeds into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines. The island of Manhattan is without any doubt the greatest human concentrate on earth. The genteel mysteries housed in the Riverside Church are only a few blocks from the voodoo charms of Harlem.” by E.B.White. Walking through the city streets is an experience, the buildings like icons to the modern age, and above all to the power of money. The city also has more straightforward pleasures. The whole city reads like an illustrated history of modern design and there is the art, which affords weeks of wandering in the Metropolitan and Modern Art Museums and countless smaller collections.

You can eat anything, at any time, cooked in any style. The established arts - dance, theater, and music - are superbly catered for. And for the avid consumer, the choice of shops is vast, almost numbingly exhaustive in this heartland of the great capitalist dream.

Enlightenment of design and innovation

After short stay in New York, we moved to airbnb house in New Haven, the city of Yale, preparing the workshop with 28 participants from over 14 different countries. The first activity gathered in the BAR, which gave us the hit in advance “Work hard, play harder”.

Everyone enjoying themselves at the Bar.

Different from the “Behavior Science” program, “Design and Innovation” is a new program opened by Yale SOM for GNAW students. It is a hands-on workshop, instead of lectures. The total participants were limited to 28, and each of participated students has committed to be active in all classes.

Creativity is connecting two (or more) elements that have not previously been connected or related. Mondrian’s paintings are finally so concise by connecting the view with geometric shapes. How was the 1st Tesla car born? It’s the connection between Laptop Li batteries and electric vehicles. The creativity session ended up with the cultural heritage & identity exercise, more and more brilliant ideas came out. Some of them might come true in the near future. 

Reframing is a very challenging session; it’s easily for us to link with ongoing class in Renmin University - Consumer Behavior. “Before determining the solution, try to depict your consumer as a “real” person, stand in his/her shoes and reframe the problem.” This methodology helps us to analyze complex problems in a logic way. “Keep focusing on what you should concentrate, and abandon redundant consideration.” Emphasized by Rodrigo Canales, Associate Professor of organizational behavior. We designed our own personal profile by each 8-person group, tried to reframe the question based on the assumptions.

After full day hands-on workshop, we started our company visit journey. Johnson + Johnson design and ?WHATIF! consulting company visit gave us impressive realization, that the implementation of innovation is the most important thing. Inspired by the inventors, the architecture was built of papers by us in unique shapes. Experimentation session also began with a classic game called “Marshmallow”. We were asked to build a “thing” with raw pasta to hold one marshmallow in peak. The investigation of experimentation results surprised us; the average score of MBAs are far behind kids. It’s true that MBAs are often dragged by “process”, caring too much about details.

Company visit to ?WHATIF!

We had a lot of fun in the agile project management session. With the lessons learnt from experimentation, our team agreed to utilize the skills introduced in this agile session, adjusting after each retrospective meeting. Finally, there were so many beautiful Lego towns. You could always learn a lot from the practice.

The final presentation was 4-person teamwork. That assignment was “How can we increase awareness of, engagement wit, and value added by the Global Network for Advanced Management for both students and alumni of participating schools”. Based on the brainstorming and discussion, the problem was reframed. Each team delivered the final presentation after 3 hours preparation. Sharing the final outcome with all talents was the most exciting moment. No matter which team won, all of 28 members are more designed & innovative now.

This is our achievement so far, and we're really happy to have the chance to attend this program while representing Renmin University of China.This blog is fully dedicated to my incredibly intelligent, responsive and self-motivated classmates.

One of the strongest storms in U.S. East Coast came on Tuesday, and the Yale campus closed that day. So, we were stuck in the airbnb house, but still enjoiyed the snow outside. Remember to check the weather forecast next time!