What a great week at SAPPHIRE NOW! As a new employee at SAP through the IMPACT Leadership Rotation Program, this year was my first SAPPHIRE NOW. With over 30,000 attendees and over 1,200 sessions, I was excited and prepared (as much as you can prepare!) for the networking and technology fire hose that I was about to drink from. I am always eager to learn, so when I was asked to spend my first day immersed in the topic of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and then write (my first ever) blog about it – I jumped at the chance! This opportunity came about through a collaboration between SAP’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team and 100Kin10, an organization utilizing a model of networked partners and design thinking tools to effect change in STEM education.
In my research prior to the event, I was fascinated by 100Kin10’s model and wanted to understand how this innovative idea was inspired. I spent the morning with Talia Milgrom-Elcott, Executive Director and co-founder, who is absolutely brilliant by the way, and she told me that when she heard President Obama’s call to prepare 100,000 new STEM teachers by 2021, she knew it could not be done by one organization alone, but rather would need to set off a chain of inspiration, commitment, and action across hundreds of organizations in order to make it a reality. That is exactly what they did. Just five years later, 100Kin10 is well on its way to reaching this audacious goal, with over 30,000 teachers trained and $90M pledged from its more than 280 partner network.
Like 100Kin10, at SAP, design thinking is the problem solving methodology we use to empower our customers, (and their customers) to transform their business. As Charlotte Bui, our Global Design Thinking Lead, describes, “design thinking is a way of bringing the human back into the business and of taking technology down the road of humanity to better connect to the people (the customers or end users) we are actually doing things for.” I have read a lot about design theory, but only recently in business school had my first hands-on experience in a design thinking session. From this and subsequent experiences, I have realized the importance of having a great facilitator. When facilitated well, design thinking sessions can be very effective in sparking innovation and creating engagement and action around an idea.
Luckily at SAP, we have an amazing facilitators on the global design thinking team. Charlotte Bui and Mieke de Rooij facilitated two micro-design sessions that engaged a diverse set of participants (customers, educators, nonprofits, and SAP employees), to focus on a specific input to the grand challenges mapped out by 100Kin10: how STEM teachers and businesses can collaborate to bring the best out of students? With 2 hours, 2 coaches, 20 participants, and 100s of post-its, we came up with a few compelling, actionable ideas – from a digital tech magazine for tween girls, to a gamified mentor matching tool. For this exercise, more important than the ideas themselves, was the energy created around the topic among participants, and attendees at the event. Talia described the session as “the best CSR experience I have ever seen. It was useful, very engaging, and put a diverse range of stakeholders in the driver’s seat to help take the solution to action.”
I would agree – I was truly inspired. Check out this video for some inspiration from the day!
Charlotte Bui and Mieke de Rooiji leading the design thinkers
Co-Founder 100Kin10 Talia Milgrom-Elcott