On September 2nd 2019, the National Incubation Center Lahore team including Faisal Sherjan, Yaser Amir Awan, Kaleem Ullah, Aqsa Munir and Maria Sadaf conducted a Design Thinking Workshop at the University of Central Punjab (UCP) incubation center, Takhleeq.
The team at NICL is a believer of passing on lessons learnt through the many opportunities the facility exposed to the future and current generations. Shahid Khan’s incomparable Design Thinking Workshop 2019, left the team fully equipped to execute workshops that can help students and faculty members understand problem statements and develop a more solution oriented mindset that makes them “fall in love with the problem” and not fear it.
The NICL team members mentioned above arrived at the UCP Lahore campus with the following problem statement in mind:
“Students are not solving real industry problems in their final year projects.”
The incentive of the workshop was to accomplish the following:
- Identify reasons that seem to be preventing students from solving industry problems.
- Identify the consequences if the problem is recurrent.
- Identify the most pressing problem within the system and
- Develop possible solutions to counter the problem.
The Identification Process
The team used the taught tactics to assist the faculty members and students present in the audience devise a list of problems. The most common ones identified ranges from students lacking basic knowledge and went as vast as the impact of society on one’s mindset when it comes to wanting to solve real problems existing within the industry.
Additionally, they also explored and learnt that the industry in the 21st century also seems less interested in innovating and wanting to solve the preexisting problems. This seemed further connected to discrepancies within the education system of Pakistan. Furthermore, it was discovered through discussion that both faculty and students lacked a strong motivational and inspirational model which was made problematic by the gap between the university’s theoretical learning’s and the industry’s practical implications. Lastly, another prominent problem that surfaced was the financial constraints experienced by students that kept them away from solving the problems.
Analyzing the Consequences
Once the problems were identified, it was important to ensure the audience understood what the possible consequences of those could be and how they would impact both the university and the industry. Upon further inquisition and discussion, it was learnt that the industry would eventually fall apart if the problems were ignored much longer. More so, the problems already existing would exponentially increase and thereby increase the cost of living for all. It was also observed that continued ignorance of the problems would lead to an industry that was not only non-productive but also far behind the industries of the world.
This would automatically translate into how the university education of our country is perceived by the world – it would evidently be deemed insufficient and thereby impact the nation’s stability putting the academic and industry credibility to question.
Coming up with Solutions
Keeping both the problems and the consequences in mind, the participants were then advised to devise a set of solutions on the basis of the problem statement that was initially introduced. One of the most imperative solutions were sought to be focused on empowering research and development sectors within the country that would further allow improvisation and improvement of the curriculum.
The students and faculty also realized that this would further groom the students and shape their intellect and ability to curate ideas from a very tender age thereby ensuring their level of preparation to jump into the business world when the time is right. Another important and often overlooked solution was to encourage extensive communication between the faculty and the industry members. This was advised to be further assisted through projects and FYPs.
The most important solution was to replace the conventional ways of teaching by disregarding the “Ratta system ” and instilling a more practical and hands-on ideology instead. This would only be possible if the actual problem is given due diligence with the development of skills through capacity building activities that would encourage and increase practical learning.
The team at NIC Lahore has identified how the gap between university teaching and industry requirements continues to produce mediocre and ill-prepared entrepreneurs and also discourages bright ideas from coming forward. To cater to this problem, we have introduced these inspired sessions to attempt to bridge the gap and ensure our nation’s ability to thrive is not put into jeopardy and no talented is gone to waste.