UMIO brings Design Thinking to Cape Town

In November, UMIO’s Carmen Vonken and Dominique Meyers taught an elective course about Design Thinking and Innovation at the University of Stellenbosch Business School. We spoke to them about their experiences in South Africa. 

Design Thinking is a method for solving problems or developing new products and services in a practical and creative way. “It is a user-centered discipline that is very practical and pragmatic”, Carmen Vonken explains.

During the Elective Week of the Executive MBA programme at University of Stellenbosch Business School, the students had to go through a so-called design sprint. Carmen: “This is a process in which you work from a challenge to a solution within a fixed time frame. The students worked in groups on a fictional case that they could fill in themselves. The starting point had to be a challenge for a company near the university, for example a shop or a restaurant. Part of the design sprint is the development of a customer journey. This is the path a consumer follows before, during and after purchasing a certain product or service. Many students indicated in advance that this was nothing new, that they already knew everything about customer journeys. However, immediately after the session they discovered that they had never worked out a real customer journey and that much more is possible than they knew from the books. That was an eye opener for them.”

How it started

Every three years, UMIO welcomes Executive MBA students from the University of Stellenbosch Business School for a European Management Residency. The residency is part of a fruitful and ongoing partnership between Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics and University of Stellenbosch Business School. For the July 2018 residency, the content of the programme was adjusted; the focus was shifted from EU Business Themes to Design Thinking and Innovation.

The week in Maastricht turned out to be a great success with many positive reactions from students. “During the residency, professor Marlize Terblanche-Smit concluded that her business school was in structural need of more depth in the field of Design Thinking”, says Dominique Meyers. “I then suggested devoting an elective to this topic for the Elective Week of their Executive MBA programme. At the end of 2018, we received a request to prepare a proposal for the Elective Week of 2019. The continuation of the elective depended on the interest of the students. Ultimately, no fewer than 26 students chose our elective, which meant that Carmen and I could travel to Cape Town in November.”

A great success

The elective about Design Thinking and Innovation was a great success, with both trainers receiving many positive reactions from the students. Dominique: “It was a bit exciting in advance, since it was the first time that we taught this elective abroad. In addition, we were warned that South African students usually first see which way the wind blows. That also appeared to be the case during the first day; many students were enthusiastic but also critical. On the second day, they came loose. We had apparently shown that we knew what we were talking about. The atmosphere became more relaxed and we laughed a lot. The students asked many questions, they were also constantly busy with the question: what does this mean for my business? That was very inspiring to see.”

“What the students really appreciated is that we, as teachers, have a good command of the knowledge and the material because we implement it within the business community through our projects”, says Carmen. “This allows us to quote many examples of what we have experienced ourselves and what we hear from companies. They also appreciated the interactivity of the elective. They found it useful to be able to apply the theory to their own case. That was a nice change from the theoretical methods that they normally deal with within the MBA programme.”

Next year

In principle, the elective was a one-off assignment, but given the positive reactions from the students and professor Terblanche-Smit, Carmen and Dominique expect that they will also be able to submit a proposal for the 2020 Elective Week. “The official feedback has yet to come in”, says Dominique. “With bad evaluations we would no longer receive an invitation, but the feedback in class was very positive so we do not expect that at all.”

UMIO’s Service Science Factory onderzoekt draagvlak voor tweetalig onderwijs

Is er in Limburg een voedingsbodem voor het aanbieden van Nederlands- én Duitstalig onderwijs op vmbo-niveau, nu en in de toekomst? Dat onderzoekt Service Science Factory (SSF) sinds begin oktober in opdracht van Provincie Limburg. Begin december presenteert het verantwoordelijke projectteam de onderzoeksresultaten.

Waarom dit onderzoek?

Duits is een belangrijke taal in Limburg. Werkgevers aan beide kanten van de grens zitten verlegen om tweetalige werknemers. En waar elders in Nederland het vak Duits afneemt in populariteit, blijft het in Limburg een stabiele factor binnen het middelbaar onderwijs. Op sommige Limburgse scholen neemt de populariteit zelfs toe.

De invoering van tweetalig onderwijs binnen het vmbo zou op termijn kunnen zorgen voor een betere aansluiting van vraag en aanbod op de Euregionale arbeidsmarkt. Aangezien Provincie Limburg een goed onderbouwde beslissing wil nemen over dit vraagstuk, is Service Science Factory (SSF) gevraagd om het te onderzoeken. 

Wie voert het uit?

Service Science Factory (SSF) is onderdeel van UMIO, de onderwijstak voor professionals van Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics. SSF is uniek vanwege zijn eigen methode om innovatieve oplossingen te ontwikkelen, genaamd Double Diamond. De oorsprong hiervan ligt in de Design Thinking-methodologie. Double Diamond bestaat uit vier fases: Discover, Define, Develop en Deliver. Tijdens dit project voor Provincie Limburg wordt vooral gewerkt in de eerste twee fases.

SSF heeft een projectteam samengesteld dat onder anderen bestaat uit masterstudenten van Maastricht University en studenten van de Hotel Management School Maastricht. Ook dr. Trudie Schils van de School of Business and Economics maakt deel uit van het team. Als projectexpert houdt zij zich onder meer bezig met de kwaliteitsbewaking en de analyse en interpretatie van data. Provincie Limburg legt als verbindende partij de contacten met scholen en andere stakeholders.

Hoe wordt het onderzoek ingevuld?

Het projectteam pakt het onderzoek holistisch aan. Dit betekent dat deskresearch wordt gecombineerd met uitvoerig kwalitatief en kwantitatief onderzoek. Deze aanpak levert een volledig en onderbouwd resultaat op.

Alle belangrijke stakeholders worden bij het onderzoek betrokken. Denk daarbij aan leerlingen, ouders, scholen, Nederlandse én Duitse werkgevers en grensinformatiepunten.

Wanneer zijn de resultaten bekend?

Begin december presenteert het projectteam de onderzoeksresultaten in de vorm van een rapport. De belangrijkste resultaten worden ook op deze website gepubliceerd.

Making Global Connections: UMIO is in Barcelona, London, Brussels, Stockholm, Shanghai and Jakarta this summer!

UMIO’s professional training programmes take their participants to all sorts of interesting, and often unconventional learning environments, from Gaia Zoo to dance studios in Limburg to a myriad of global settings throughout the year. This summer, UMIO’s programmes take place in Spain, the UK, Belgium, Sweden, China and Indonesia, as well as here in the Netherlands of course!

European Links

Barcelona provided the setting for the Future of Finance topic from the International Finance and Control Campus (IFCC), which is partnered with EADA Business School.  Prof. Harrold Hassink and academic colleagues from SBE and EADA delivered the 5-day course to the Chartered Accountant participants covering topics on Data Analytics, Big Data Applications and Digital Innovation in relation to finance.

Students on the Executive Master’s in Cultural Leadership (EMCL) programme were at the Royal Academy of Arts in London last week for their module on Exhibition and Events. This accelerated study programme is taught in London, Maastricht and Brussels. It aims to foster inspirational leaders who bring a rich understanding of the creative process and innovation to their organisations within the arts and creative industries and beyond.

Participants on the NEVI Procurement Leadership Programme were in Stockholm last week for a 3-day study trip. The Finance module was taught by Dr Niclas Hellman, an internationally acclaimed Accounting & Finance Professor of Stockholm School of Economics. Students received new insights from leading guest speakers and visited a Swedish multinational company as part of the trip.

Students on the Diploma of Advanced Studies in Cardiac Arrhythmia Management (otherwise known as DAS-CAM ) will take part in their 3rd module of the course which will be delivered at the European Heart Academy in Brussels between 22-26 June.  This initiative is a joint collaboration between Maastricht University Medical Center (MUMC+), European Heart Academy (EHA) and the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA).

Connections in Asia

The International Executive Master’s programme of Finance and Control (iEMFC) is taught through a series of seminars that take place in Maastricht, Boston and Shanghai, and from 7 – 20 July, the students will experience first-hand, the intercultural aspects of doing business in China.

Action Learning and PBL will provide the focus of the professional training programme being delivered in Indonesia in August to the Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi, KPK).  The programme is the sequel to training which took place in Maastricht in April and is the result of a partnership between UMIO and MSM.

This is just a glimpse of where we are and what we’re doing. But where will we be going next? Keep abreast of all of our upcoming programmes, events and developments. Stay Connected!