“We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far” – By Swami Vivekanada
I was born in an entrepreneur family in India. My father, a true entrepreneur, a self made man from scratch, has always been my inspiration to develop my character. I have been always fascinated by his leadership skill. Before sending me to Kingston University, he gave me the above quote and also told me that I can what I want to be. I always want to be a leader and I am fascinated by all the great leaders of different eras around the world but I also wanted to be creative. I always wanted to make a difference.
In the beginning, I was only enrolled in International Business Management. After the first week of classes, two of my friends were explaining me about their additional Entrepreneurship class. They were describing how practical it is. Then I realized that this kind of module will be essential to develop my creative nature as well as leadership skill in me. The next day I registered myself for the module. Moreover, I knew that residing and studying in London for a year will provide me all the platforms to make myself independent and to be my own.
I feel that being a leader not only always mean how you can lead a group or captivate the attention of a crowd, but, firstly, also how you lead yourself through the unrecognized challenging paths of life. However, a leader is nothing without his or her creative skills. If a leader does not think differently than others then he will not be able to stand out from the crowd. Before I make someone to believe in something, I need to believe in it and need to be confident that nothing can breach to me achieve that target. Therefore, I knew that I highly require that creative leadership skill to be a successful entrepreneur.
Skills which I developed through this module:
We all know that there is a vast difference between reality and what you are taught in class. Honestly speaking, the International Business Management course were very theoretical and most of the things I already knew, because I did my Bachelor in Business Administration. However, the Design Thinking Entrepreneurship module is the only class where I really had to push myself to the practical world and that is the best part of this module (Muelle).
After my under-graduation, I worked four years in my family business which is manufacturing and exporting leather goods. It is based in Kolkata, India. I worked in each department, such as accounting, marketing, production, purchase, etc, just like my other employees. In the marketing department, I had to communicate everyday with my customers from around world. During that time I travelled many countries with my father. While I was in production section, I had to deal with workers who did not know how read and write, but they are highly skill full in making the products. I realized the difference between theory and reality when I had to convince and make them understand what I want, not what they want (Muelle). Therefore, sometime I feel and I think it is true that in business world theories are born from incidents; i.e. firstly, incidents take place and later some talented scholar draw a theory out of it and name it with their name. Later, the theories are engraved in the books and students like us read it and try to grasp it throughout the year. However, we need to realize that it has been happening all around us. I think leader’s used to motivate his followers before the invention of motivation and leadership theories. They were also intelligent, but moreover, they were creative and that is what makes them different than others (Muelle).
The Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship in Practice module is all about our creativity. It helped us to enhance the horizon of our creativity. Each and every class, we did something new, such as sometime making shoe out with whatever we had, going out of the class asking others about their shoes, sitting in the class the way we wanted, playing the role of bankers and CEO of companies, participating into Young Entrepreneurship competition, and many others. Each and every creative thing gave me a new challenge and pushed me out of my comfort zone (Rickards).
In my four years professional career, I also had opportunity to work with my design team on few projects. I visualized how they used to come up with new product idea. For example, customers used to send us different pictures of product and we had to modify then in such a way that it becomes cheaper and looks different than the original product. The sample men used to show me how to make samples, what kind of material we should use to make the product more durable. It was not really easy for me to learn, but it was interesting. We had to design the product for the next year. Therefore, we had to analyses the colour forecast and the theme for the next season. However, the features of the products used to be assembled according to our customers specification. Therefore, our product development team did not have much freedom. It made me feel that one day I will have my own brand where the design will be mine and I do not have to follow any more specification (Yeats).
The Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship module gave me that platform. I was really excited and happy when we were asked to design and develop a product. The best part was having our own company where each and every decision will be ours and we will be directly approaching to the customers. I still get amazed when we think that how we came up with the idea (Yeats).
A short Story: Two of us, me, and Onkar, were smoking just outside of the building. We were worried that we had to tell our professor about out our idea and we did not have a clue about it, because we till then we had been looking for new ideas or a true innovative product. After three to four minutes our third partner, Kanna, joined us. He was wearing a jacket and having a shoulder laptop bag on top of it. The bag and jacket was really eye catching. Suddenly, out of now where, it came to my mind to make a jacket which will have a laptop sleeve (a case to put a laptop).So, I proposed the idea to other two. It seemed impractical in the beginning. So I had to draw a picture to make them understand how it can be done. Suddenly, Kanna said, “yes!!! We can do that, I know a garment manufacturing company in India who can make that”. That is it, EUREKA!!!! We got it. Onkar said if we can do that then our problem is solved, because no one is the market has got such kind of product. We proposed the idea to our professor and she also liked it and we were all ready to go for our first prototype. It was really enjoyable and such an experience. I do not have words to express the feeling of that particular moment when we had our first prototype.
Team working skills:
Tuckman’s team work theory is the most famous one. I studied that when in my undergraduates. He mentioned about the four stages of team development. Our team development for our entrepreneurship class is related to the four stages which are described below (Tuckman).
It is the initial stage of team development during which individuals have not yet gelled together. Everybody is busy finding their place in the team and sizing each other up. I had that feeling too. I was scratching my head when we were asked to form our team. I was looking around every one and try to highlight the fellow students with whom I could form my team. After all, we had to develop a product and sale it just like the real world. However, it did not take me long time to form the team with Onkar and Kanna, because I knew them from my other modules and we worked together on several projects (Using the GROW model to solve problems).
People begin to see themselves as part of a team. However at this stage they may challenge each other, and the team leader, about such things as what the team is doing, and how things should be done. I also faced this stage, but rather than challenging each other we are questioning ourselves when we did not have our product idea. We did not have any major conflict, but it is true that everyone has different ideas to complete a task. We used to discuss our ideas and not matter what we decided, everyone worked on it equally (Tuckman).
This is the phase where team members start to come together, developing processes, establishing ground rules, clarifying who does what, and how things will be done. This phase is characterized by a growing sense of “togetherness”. We were really clear about our roles. Kanna had the contacts in India to outsource the goods on time. I and Onkar took the responsibility to market the product. His responsibility was to create the awareness about the product between friends and Kingston college students and my responsibility was to approach the other universities and wholesalers (Tuckman).
This is the final stage where increased focus on both the task and on team relationships, combine to provide synergy. Performance is delivered through people working effectively together will help you and your team sustain that performance. I and my team members worked hard to push our products through all the possible channels. I approached to Richmond American International University in London, because somehow I knew the vice president of that university. We know each other very well. They accepted to publish the product on their web. Our professor provided us the opportunity to participate in college trade shows where we advertised our product and got appreciations and positive feedbacks (Tuckman).
Relationship with the GROW model:
It is the most famous problem solving model. It is divided into five stages. Each letter of the G-R-O-W model defines a stage, except “O” which defined two stages. Our group’s achievement in Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship module is also classified with the help of GROW model in the following way.
“G” (Goal): The terms “G” refers to idea of setting your Goal. In the beginning our goal was to sell as much product as we can, just like others. At that moment we did not have the bigger picture in our mind. However, later on when we developed a unique product and realized that, in reality, it has got huge potential, we changed our goal. We decided to continue with the project even after finishing the course and approach to the big brands (Grow Model ).
“R”(Reality): We did not difficulties in the beginning. We knew our plan and how to approach. The difficult part was to get the first prototype on time, before the first trade show. We outsourced the product to India. We had no control over that manufacturing company. We had to look professional so that they take us seriously. They took time to arrange the fabric and develop the first prototype, because it was the trial and error stage. However, finally we had our product just before the day of trade show (Using the GROW model to solve problems).
“O” (Obstacles and Options): In the initial stage our first obstacles was finding the right company to develop the first prototype. Secondly, creating awareness was another difficulty. Right now, our obstacle is to find a path to get hold on to the big brands. Our options were, to develop the product in India, because Kanna new the company. Options for creating awareness were trade shows, pamphlets in the university, Facebook, and publishing our advertisement (Using the GROW model to solve problems).
“W” (Way forward): We worked on our options with our full effort. However, as I mentioned earlier that we shifted our goal, we thought it might not be worthy to sell products in single pieces before have the patent right and selling single pieces can create an obstacle for future. The brands might now accept the product as because it is already out in the market (Yeats).
Therefore, after the last trade shows we registered our product and we are still trying to get in touch with the big brands or the wholesalers.
Muelle, Jennifer S. “Creativity and Leadership Perceptions.” Wharton Management . <http://www-management.wharton.upenn.edu/mueller/docs/Mueller_Goncalo_Kamdar-JESP_creativity-leadership.pdf>.
Rickards, Tudor. “Creative leadership Process in Project Team Development .” March 2000. British Journal of Management . <http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/content/BPL_Images/Journal_Samples/BJOM1045-3172~11~4~173/173.pdf>.
Tuckman. “Teamwork Theory: Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development.” July 2007. The Happy Manager . <http://www.the-happy-manager.com/teamwork-theory.html>.
Vivekananda, Swami. Brainy Quote. 2010. <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/s/swami_vivekananda.html>.
Wikipedia. December 2008. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GROW_model>.
Yeats, Michael. “Product Design Theory.” 2011. CRANE MATERIALS INTERNATIONAL. <http://www.cmiengineer.com/whitepapers/product_design.pdf>.
Youtube. 15 April 2009. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wu0VAuhsZ_g>.