Idea to Market: Day 2 – Introductions at Makerspace

When I started this series, I was full of ambition. The initial goal was to write a post a day recounting the entire Idea to Market training, but doubt and laziness crept in. However, I’m giving this one more shot and this series should be over by the end of this week (that’s the 31st of March, 2018 which is also the end of the month, perfect timing). That’s a hard deadline that I’ve set for myself.
So let’s resume where we left off. Day 2 of the Idea to Market workshop kicked off on Monday the 12th of February, 2018. This counted as the first day of the intensive learning part of the workshop, since Friday’s visit to KNH was mostly a way to give context to the exercise. For this we were hosted at the Makerspace in Upper Kabete.

Upper Kabete is one of my favourite campuses of the University of Nairobi. It is serene and spacious as compared to the Main Campus which is relatively more hectic and cramped.

This isn’t the campus itself, but a view from the campus. Look at all that green

The first part of the morning was dedicated to introductions from the various stakeholders of the event, namely: UNICEF,  Concern Worldwide, the University of Nairobi Science and Technology Park, Gearbox, Ministry of Health, Kenyatta National Hospital and the Philips Foundation. There were a bunch of speakers each from the aforementioned organisations who gave a little talk about their involvement with the workshop and its importance as far as they were concerned.

The participants also introduced themselves, their respective fields and their interest in the workshop.

Afterwards, the bulk of the day was spent getting into the training, the fun part. Some of the goals of the training was to learn how to create customer centric products, getting to understand the process of product development, understanding project management and team building, learning how to extend your networks and sharpening your ideas. Throughout the training, we were also to be guided by UNICEF’s 9 principles for digital development, which I’ll quickly list below:

  1. Design with the User
  2. Understand the existing ecosystem
  3. Design for scale
  4. Build for sustainability
  5. Be data driven
  6. Use open standards, open data, open source and open innovation
  7. Reuse and improve
  8. Do no harm
  9. Be collaborative
You could read more about these principles over here. It was emphasised that these were not hard and fast rules such that you’d have to make certain that your innovation checked each and every single one of these points, but they are more like guidelines to help you along the way.
As it is with most workshops in which a large group of people come together, there will more often than not be some exercises integrated into the program and thus a need for groups. Thus we were divided into 7 groups of approximately 6 members each. I was in Group 6 which is a good number to be since when it comes to presentations, the pressure of being first isn’t yours and you can totally learn from other people’s mistakes.
The morning session of the day, was facilitated by Dr. Aly Syed, an Experimental High Energy Physicist by training from the Philips Foundation. What he dealt with was mostly an introduction to what innovation is and the types of innovation that exist. There was also talk of the innovation process and innovation excellence the latter of which is basically checking whether your innovation is effective, efficient and properly managed.
In a later part of the afternoon session, Dr. Syed introduced a methodology for product creation called CAFCR+:
  • Customer View
  • Application View
  • Functional View
  • Concept View
  • Realisation View
  • +Lifecycle View
The CAFCR model is borrowed from embedded systems, and throughout the week we worked in groups to come up with a mock product based on these principles.
The second instructor, Roel, lead the first part of the afternoon session, dealing with a topic that I love and have been trying to figure out on my own for quite a long time, Team Dynamics. He started of his session with 20 reasons why startups fail and the number one reason was because the team that was formed wasn’t the right team. While I haven’t been part of a startup, I know, just from working in various group projects, how easy it is for things to fall apart when there isn’t an understanding between group members.
We went through the process of how groups evolve over time from the formation of the group, to the fight for control/leadership of the group, to defining the rules of the group and finally focusing on the task at hand. This could be summarised with the phrases: Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing.
One of the important part of the forming stage of the group was the orientation phase. This is where you get to understand what it means to be a member of the group, why does the team exist, among other things. This was to be the basis of the very first group exercise whereby we were to state to our respective group members what you have to offer the group, what you expect to gain from the group, any problems that might hinder you in the team and how you could address them.
The final part of Roel’s team building session was an introduction to the scrum/agile project management. The scrum/agile management system is mainly from the software world, but it is very possible for it to be applied in hardware development.
So that was basically the gist of how the first day of the training went. It was an 8am to 5pm affair with a tea break at 11am, lunch at around 1pm and another tea break at around 4pm, so we were well taken care of. While we did learn quite a bit on day one, there was still quite a bit to cover. I’ll get into day 3 tomorrow. And I think I’ll put a little index to all of the days below each post so that navigation will be easy once all the posts are complete.

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