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Innovation. Entrepreneurship. Intercultural exchange. - Dr. Jens Unger of Impact Week

In episode 38 we speak with Dr. Jens Unger, the Global Lead of Impact Week, an organization that uses design thinking to build entrepreneurship opportunities within developing countries. 

Impact Week started in partnership between a Church in Germany and universities in Kenya. The professors in Kenya were looking for an opportunity for their students to gain employment after graduation even though there were not many opportunities readily available. Impact Week is run as a 7 day long design sprint, focused on solving local issues. The Universities provide areas of focus, then the students use the sprint to develop a working prototype of their solution to pitch by the end of the 7 day sprint.

How Do You Apply Design Thinking To Real World Problems?

Impact week is designed around a local and intercultural experience. It starts with 3 days of training sessions, teaching the facilitators how to lead the design sprint, followed by a 4 day design sprint ending on the 4th day with each team presenting their working prototype to a panel. The specific issues they try to address are picked as broad topics from the universities hosting the event to ensure they are working issues that are locally relevant. 

The majority of the prototypes and presentations end up providing a strong experience for the students, but never go into production, however, several of the projects have received funding and gone on to be the start of successful businesses. Be sure to listen to the full episode to hear some creativity that the students use during impact week.

Using Design Thinking During COVID Lockdown

When the COVID pandemic hit, travel became impractical and in many cases completely impossible. As a result many impact week events started to get cancelled, until they decided to apply their own design thinking process to find a way to run impact week in a distributed environment. While they are looking forward to meeting again in person, running the event in a virtual environment has enabled them to pull in and connect people from all over the world that wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to collaborate.

What Tools Drive Your Digital Impact Week?

In order to run impact week in a virtual environment they have had to adopt and learn new technologies. These are the tools they are currently using to keep things fun and keep things organized. 

WhatsApp - Team spirit and Camaraderie

Slack - Organizing Teams

Google Drive - Keeping Track of Files

Notion - Knowledge Management

Zoom - meetings

Mural - Whiteboard during meetings

Be sure to listen to the full episode to hear practical ways to use the design thinking process to drive innovation within your ministry. 


Impact Week: https://www.impactweek.net

Ted Talk: Kids Can Teach Themselves: https://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_kids_can_teach_themselves

Free Book Chapter: Lessons learned from a virtual Design Thinking challenge in Nepal