Khalid’s Reflective Essay

Finally, my long journey as a ‘MACER’ has ended. The ship has landed! I began this journey a year ago with no idea of what direction I wanted my life and future goals to take. I was of the notion wherever the road takes me I will roll on. After finishing my undergraduate, I was uncertain of what I wanted to do with my life until I applied for an MA at KU life took a drastic turn for the better. On this day, I am oozing with knowledge, visions, passion, optimism, and goals ready to go to the real world and solve a problem. I have three vital options for my future specific goals.

The first goal is to pursue my Ph.D. This will enhance my engagement with more scholarly articles. I will then have my thesis that will have a more significant impact on solving a global problem. Second, pursue a career in a healthcare setting whereby I will apply myself to create professional links and networks with potential investors and partners. Lastly, I am confident in my capabilities and knowledge in becoming an entrepreneur. I would like to create a drone with sensors and trackers that can track the health of individuals in an urban setting and recommend them to visit the nearest hospital for checkups.

This reflective essay aims to reflect on my blogs—how the module will assist me in achieving my goal (entrepreneur), business learning experience from the module, and evaluate my weaknesses and strengths. I have learned a lot, but unfortunately, I could not cover all I have learned in my blogs.

How the Module Will Assist Me in Achieving My Goal

Throughout the journey, we have covered everything in the module in the start-ups and entrepreneurship sector. This includes product development, branding, marketing, finance, and so on. I will narrow down to what I have covered in my blogs; bodystorming and design thinking for this section.

The journey began with a brainstorming and bodystorming session. We interacted through brainstorming as we had come from different backgrounds we were able to come up with diverse ideas based on problems people face from our regions. Wang, Fussell, and Cosley, (2011) states how a culturally diverse group can stimulate creativity through brainstorming. Diversity is essential for my future entrepreneurship goal. Generating ideas is an integral part of entrepreneurship. A culturally diverse group has a high chance of generating ideas and stimulating thinking. This has given me the idea of employing a diverse workforce and getting ideas from a diverse workforce to attain my future goal.

In my blog on Bodystorming, I have indicated how we generated ideas through bodystorming that we could not have been able to discern through brainstorming and sketches. I learned how putting yourself in someone’s shoes can enhance creativity and innovation. As (Cook, Dow, and Hammer, 2017) states, bodystorming is an interactive learning process with high success rates. Bodystorming will give me firsthand experience in understanding a problem. Understanding the consumers’ needs from their perspective and having greater insight in solving their problems. I can describe bodystorming as an empathy catalyst that solves problems effectively. The Wheelchair instance demonstrated the importance of placing oneself in another’s situation to understand the customers’ and their needs.

Figure 1: Bodystorming on Wheelchair

Later on, we studied the design thinking process. As my Design Thinking Expectations states, I had my expectations from the class, and true I captured a lot. I learned that in design thinking, my focus should be on the user instead of the service or product. Previously, I believed that design thinking is a quick process that focuses on producing a product without frequently checking on quality through thorough testing. This leads us to the five-stage design thinking. 

Figure 2: Phases of Design Thinking

When making Shakesy my team and I used this process, we kept on revolving around the processes until we made the final product. As postulated by (Cook, Dow, and Hammer, 2017) design thinking is essential in product development and marketing. True to this observation, design thinking assisted our team in Shakesy development and adopting an effective marketing strategy. As my Trade Fair blog states, we sold over 20 units. The design thinking lesson prepared my journey to entrepreneurship by viewing the process as a strategy for providing the best customer-oriented products. I perceive design thinking as an initiative that combines creative thinking, logical thinking, experimenting, and numerous testing and prototyping to provide the perfect product or service for the end-users.

Figure 3: Team Asocial Selling Shakesy

My next learning experience was to the Design Museum. I had always believed that Museums are places for children; the notion of the Museum is a kid’s place was strengthened after interacting with a variety of exhibits ranging from science to social aspects. From my blog Design Museum, I learned how I can combine different innovations to come up with a unique entrepreneurship idea.  At the Museum, the different technological innovations captivated my attention in the health care sector. The existence of tangible artifacts is a drive to innovation (Dal Falco and Vassos, 2017). The robot folding laundry, traditional aircraft grasped my attention, but later shifted to 3-D printing of organs, drones monitoring the plants through sensors and trackers. The drones are used for spraying pesticides on the plants. That was when the idea of applying the same in a densely populated country, urban setting, or an Ebola or any airborne contaminated area could make use of such medical drones. The experience at the Museum was exceptional as it facilitated me with my future entrepreneurship idea.

Figure 4: Robot Folding Laundry
Figure 5: Classic Aircraft and Automobiles
Figure 6: 3-D Printing Human Organs

Until this moment, I was still gassed up to learn more about how I will actuate my idea in the real world. Yearning to learn more. The next best experience I had was in the Trade Fair. I always had a negative perception of trade fairs, and I was unwilling to participate. I considered it a waste of time. Fortunately, I took part in two trade fairs during the module. The most educative one was the Eden Walk Trade Fair. As in (Seringhaus and Rosson, 2001; Jung, 2005; Ahola, 2012) articles, they consider trade fairs as an integral part of the marketing strategy. The authors describe trade fairs as facilitators of creativity. We employed the feedback and criticism we received from the judges and prospective customers to enhance Shakesy. I am deficient in both verbal and non-verbal communication. My experience at Dragons’ Den and the Trade Fair pointed out I need to work on my communication skills. Communication is a vital tool in marketing; the interaction between our customers and the team generated new ideas for our product. Through communication, we were able to network and attract potential partners. This was a lesson for my future goal, that communication is key to the success of any business. As my  blog on Trade Fair indicates product development, branding, advertising is essential investments for the success of any business.

Figure 7: Trade Fair
Figure 8: Trade Fair Exhibition

What an intriguing journey! I had always believed that women once given an opportunity are as good innovators and even better than their male counterparts. The reality dawned on 17th October 2018. My friend attended Women in Entrepreneurship Workshop as described in my blog on Women as Entrepreneurs. The motivational speeches were inspiring; they educated me on how to be ambitious, patient, an innovator and a hard worker. I was moved by the London Mayor and Janja Popovic, the owner of Ayswap a start-up that specializes in reusable coffee cups.  Such workshops are essential for lessons like patience and perseverance. Durbin and Fleetwood, (2010) state the importance of gender equality in employment and the importance of diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. I learned the importance of robust policies for my entrepreneurship to ameliorate gender inequality. 

Figure 9: Women Entrepreneurship Workshop

The journey did not stop there; we had quite a lot to learn. The idea of teamwork as an integration of talents, ideas, and contributions by (Gaffney, 2015) struck me during the Dragons’ Den presentations. It was at the end of the module, and we had worked together as a team from October to March as a team of 4 members two ladies and two gentlemen (Importance of gender equality) we were from different cultural backgrounds (Again the importance of diversity). The team and I were anxious about how to compress six months’ work into 6 minutes. This changed after the first mock we received feedback from the judges that assisted us through our pitch. We used our business plan and goals to achieve this. In my experience, I figured out the importance of business plans and well-defined goals. As a team, we were through ups and downs, but as a dependable, problem-solver, and self-motivated team member I was able to keep the glue of the team intact. Our product started as a Trusteam Mug but evolved to Shakesy Health Starter Kit. All these would not have been achieved working as an individual. Working together as a team creates synergy- where the input of the team is greater than that of an individual. Teamwork is considered to increase efficiency that leads to better performance of a company. Excellent lessons for my future goal.

Figure 10: Evolution of Shakesy
Figure 11: Pitch Presentation

I have to summarize my experience in the module from the Bright Idea Sprint. Though I could have narrated my experience to over 10,000 unfortunately, we have a set word limit. The Bright Idea Sprint is a competition that provides students with opportunities to present an idea to a panel of judges and the best is given an award. This had me connect this with (Al-Mahdawiy, 2016) how rewards affect employee creativity and innovation. They coined that both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards have impacts on employee creativity and innovation. This connected me to my future goal on the significance of monetary and non-monetary rewards to boost employees’ creativity and innovation. I had always presumed that money is the ultimate motivator, but after the Bright Idea Sprint, I realized both monetary and non-monetary rewards are equally important. 

Figure 12: Bright Idea Sprint

Overview of the Lessons Learned for my Future Goal

·   Placing oneself in the shoes of the end-user is one way of creating quality products.

·  Design thinking is a strategy for producing quality products to meet end-users’ needs.

·   A visit to the museum equals creativity, learning, and experimentation.

·   Communication is an integral tool for marketing and attracting prospective customers.

·   Strong gender equality policies promote women performance and the reputation of the organization

·  Groups and teamwork are key to the success of an organization

·  Both monetary and non-monetary rewards are essential for an employee’s creativity and innovation.

Honestly, this class is more than what I had dreamt of. It was a one lifetime experience, and I am confident my classmates will live to remember. I enjoyed some parts, and some were incredibly boring. The parts I perceived to be boring I had to struggle with them to grasp something. I can, however, attest that I have learned more than I expected thanks to my tutor and classmates.

Thank you all.

References

Ahola, E.-K. (2012) ‘Towards an understanding of the role of trade fairs as facilitators of consumer creativity,’ Journal of Marketing Communications, 18(5), pp. 321–333. doi: 10.1080/13527266.2010.528587.

Al-Mahdawiy, R. M. (2016) Understanding the Impact Creativity and Innovation of Rewards on Employees’ : a Literature Review Study. Available at: http://www.bth.se (Accessed: 25 April 2019).

Cook, A. S., Dow, S. P. and Hammer, J. (2017) ‘Towards Designing Technology for Classroom Role-Play,’ in Proceedings of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play  – CHI PLAY ’17. New York, New York, USA: ACM Press, pp. 241–251. doi: 10.1145/3116595.3116632.

Dal Falco, F., and Vassos, S. (2017) ‘Museum Experience Design: A Modern Storytelling Methodology,’ The Design Journal. Routledge, 20(sup1), pp. S3975–S3983. doi: 10.1080/14606925.2017.1352900.

Durbin, S. and Fleetwood, S. (2010) ‘Gender inequality in employment: Editors’ introduction,’ Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion: An International Journal. Edited by S. Durbin. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 29(3), pp. 221–238. doi: 10.1108/02610151011028831.

Gaffney, P. (2015) ‘The Nature and Meaning of Teamwork’, Journal of the Philosophy of Sport. Routledge, 42(1), pp. 1–22. doi: 10.1080/00948705.2014.941849.

Jung, M. (2005) ‘Determinants of Exhibition Service Quality as Perceived by Attendees’, Journal of Convention & Event Tourism, 7(3–4), pp. 85–98. doi: 10.1300/J452v07n03_05.

Seringhaus, F. H. R. and Rosson, P. J. (2001) ‘Firm Experience and International Trade Fairs’, Journal of Marketing Management, 17(7–8), pp. 877–901. doi: 10.1362/026725701323366854.

Wang, H.-C., Fussell, S. R. and Cosley, D. (2011) From Diversity to Creativity: Stimulating Group Brainstorming with Cultural Differences and Conversationally-Retrieved Pictures. Available at:

Click to access wang-ieculture-cscw2011.pdf

(Accessed: 20 April 2019).

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