It’s 7am and I’ve just arrived at the iconic Stanford in Palo Alto, California.

I’m super excited to dive into a full-day workshop, and later on a ceremony for completing the Certificate of Innovation & Entrepreneurship after two years.

First up, mingling in the foyer with some of my classmates, who’ve arrived from Russia, France, and all over. We’re equally excited to learn and enjoy some face-to-face learning after 1-2 years of online modules.

The pre-coursework for today’s workshop focussed on software company Atlassian, and how they’ve developed and scaled an amazing team culture from startup to major global success. (I’m super proud that it’s an Australian company!) The workshop itself is based on reducing friction across organisations, with Design Thinking processes & tools at the heart of improving teams and the products they develop.

We get started right on time and I’m immediately impressed with energy, practical insights & academic wisdom of the Stanford staff. A total of 5 teachers throughout the day are a perfect blend of scholarly thinking and experience garnered from working with major innovation companies over many years.

Jeremy Utley, Bob Sutton, Huggy Rao, Perry Klebahn & me!  (Not pictured, but also teaching: Kath Segovia)

There were so many highlights & learnings on the day, with more blog posts to come, so here are just a few snippets:

On-campus Design Thinking fieldwork

In small groups we were assigned to random areas of the Stanford campus (which is absolutely stunning!) to interview and interact with real people as they purchased food. I was assigned to a popular Jamba Juice outlet and enjoyed working with staff and customers, listening to & empathising with their various points of view. We ideated solutions back in the studio and then did some live prototyping back at the juice outlet.Reflection: At the heart of Design Thinking is empathy. Observe and interact with real people & real customers, don’t just sit in a room and make assumptions!

Meta learning experience

Beyond the content itself (which was truly fantastic), I appreciated the combination of learning experiences and was able toapply them directly in my own workshops, classes and client interactions. I spent some of 2017 teaching Design Thinking at UTS and found some techniques I picked up on the day very helpful for my own students. Reflection: Every learning experience is a chance to improve your own teaching ability.

Creative teaching environment

No question that the whole experience felt Ivy League - not in a snobbish way but with world-class content, teachers, classmates and delivery. The teachers were so insightful but genuine & humble in their delivery, humour and approach to working with students. Walking around Stanford for the delay was a delight, complemented perfectly by the studio & creative workshop spaces itself. Reflection: Invest in world-class learning experiences!

After two years online, and this final on-campus workshop, I was awarded the world’s most expensive hat! 

Bonus: Check out my video from the workshop!

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