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  • Writer's pictureRenate Matroos

Dare to think outside of the infamous box

Mash-up Innovation

New group, new chances. The second term this schoolyear has started on Monday November 12th so it’s time to start all over again.

A new group doesn’t mean I will just copy my program from the last group. No, I took my own reflections and the feedback I got from my last students to improve the program. What did you do differently this time, I hear you asking? The answer is a bunch, so please keep on reading for a more in depth answer.

There are two groups of students attending my course. Some of the students do Learning-by-Doing (leren door doen) and some of them do Thinking-than-Doing (eerst denken dan doen). The first group was present at the kick-off on Monday November 12th where we briefed them on what they could expect the upcoming months. The second group was present on Tuesday, but it wasn’t my teaching day, so my colleague did the kick-off. On Monday November 19th, I started the first class with a briefing on what they could expect during “Improve your Business”. I know how much information they’ve gotten during the first week, so a short brief didn’t hurt. I also explained the final assignment they would present at the end of this program. This time I was much clearer about what I’m expecting from them. Also, all the students got name tags so I, and of course, the other students knew each other's names. I also made my classes more personal by approaching all the students by their name. After the brief and the check-in, I asked the students to pitch their business ideas (again). 

You might agree or even disagree, but it’s a big challenge to come up with some new and unique ideas when you’re used to your own way of thinking. The ideas you usually come up with are based on things that already exist, so you get stuck in this bubble. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people that do come up with amazing innovative ideas, but how do they do that? I gave my students a tool ,Mash-Up Innovation, that makes ideation much easier. This method is about combining unexpected elements together to get fresh and new ideas. The students were amazed about how many new, good and unique concepts came to life in only 12 minutes. After every exercise, I ask the students how they could use these tools in their own business.

When the students’ energy level declines, I always do a quick energizer. These are fun, short and often silly games that give the group more energy. We did rock-paper-scissors, a game everybody knows. And to involve the whole group I wanted the people that lost, cheer on the people that were still playing. So everyone was hyped. Energizers are always fun to do, but since they’re so playful the students are often shy or somewhat embarrassed to participate right away, but once they’re participating they’re having so much fun!

The second assignment we did that day was finding your “Ikigai”; your reason for being. A lot of students thought it was a hard assignment. There are four (simple) questions that have to be answered, but since they’re so simple it gets hard to answer them. So I spoke to every one of my students individually. And asked them more questions, I dug deeper. The struggle most students were experiencing was thinking that 3 of the 4 questions were the same. So they thought that the question what do you love and what are you good in were the same. And that these answers were the same as the answer to the question what can you get paid for. So after explaining the difference it became clearer. Time flies when I'm teaching, so I asked them to keep improving their “Ikigai” at home. I had decided to do this assignment in the first class so they could start thinking about what makes them happy and to start doing things that are contributing to their happiness and their businesses. Instead of always doing things that have to be done or only do things for others.

My top learnings from this Mondays’ class are that it’s not only my role to teach the students new things, but also to get people comfortable to do new things. It’s not just important to tell them how it can be done, more importantly to show them how it has to be done. Showing them how much fun it can be, how easy it is to do new things and that you shouldn’t be embarrassed to do so. I truly try to involve every single one of my students and try to make them feel comfortable in my classes.

I realized that I don’t tell you -yes YOU!- this often or at all, so from the bottom of my heart thank you so much for taking the time to read yet another post! And if this is your first time reading one of my blogposts, welcome and thank you! I would love to hear what you would like to see in my next blog post. If you’re missing something or if you completely disagree with something I wrote or did, feel free to send me an email!

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