Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Business Models for Designers 2010: Learning from the Field

Learning from the Field
Prof M P Ranjan

Learning from the field as a part of the design pedagogy at NID includes a live assignment that provides training in observation and interaction with persons and situations from a particular context. Here, in this course, we asked six teams of students to visit selected situations in the city of Ahmedabad to look at selected street food vendors over a period of three or four days in which they would watch, interact, record through field notes and sketches and build models to refine their understanding of the situation being studied, all carried out in an iterative manner. In this case the business models of a category of entrepreneurs called street food vendors. This year, as in previous years, we assigned the six groups to the categories of street food vendors who would be active at this time of the year. These six include – Fruit and Juice vendors (Juicewalla), Tea vendors (Chaiwalla), Pani Puri vendors (Pani Puri walla), Pav Bhaji vendors (Pav Bhaji walla), Omlette vendors (Omlettewalla) and the Fried Bhajiya vendor (Bhajiya walla). Download presentation with linked movies and paper titled "Creating the Unknowable: Designing the Future in Education" presented at the EAD06 conference in Bremen, Germany in 2005 which describes the course along with a visual presentation and embedded slide shows inside the pdf show. Zip file 53.8 mb with pdf show and full text and linked movies.

Image01: Metaphor chosen by the Juicewalla group was Street Car Racing with pit stops and racing events that were supported with poster presentations of a variety of juice vendors in the city of Ahmedabad. the thumbnail images show how the team members came up to the models and explained their understanding to the full class.

Download pdf picture album of Juicewalla group PDF file 5.8 mb

Image02: The Chaiwalla group chose the metaphor of a Football match and they presented a dynamic image that had players coming in as cut-out images and made for a compelling presentation. The team wore team T-shirts and badges for a group identity.

Download pdf picture album of Chaiwalla group PDF file 12.6 mb

Image03: The Pani Puri group used the train of gears as their metaphor and theirs too was a dynamic show since they came in one by one and added a new yellow gear as they shared their insights from the field.

Download pdf picture album of Pani Puriwalla group PDF file 5.3 mb

Image04: A very Indian metaphor of a Masala Dabba or Masala Box for Indian spices was used by the Pav Bhaji group and the show went through many layers of unfolding from each spice sub-box. The lid too had some problems that were shared at the very end.

Download pdf picture album of Pav Bhajiwalla group PDF file 4.8 mb

Image05: The Omlettewala group chose the metaphor of a Music Boom Box and performed a skit to illustrate some features.

Download pdf picture album of Omlettewalla group PDF file 4.1 mb

Image06: Finally the Bhajiyawalla group stole the show by presenting an huge Ten Rupee Note using both sides of the note as their metaphor. Their explanation was that whatever happened to the costs of ingredients the Bhajiyawalla always managed to Price their product at Rupees Ten. Good insight from the field, a strategy to remember.

Download pdf picture album of Bhajiyawalla group PDF file 3.6 mb

Understanding Business Processes:
Building and delivering business models are now an integral part of our understanding of design in India. We therefore innovated this assignment in order to give design students an understanding of business processes. Groups of students are asked to study the work of local street food vendors and to conduct observations and interviews with numerous such service providers in order to understand their business processes and to map the same in the form of a presentation to the rest of the class. The local “Chai-wallah, the omlette-wallah, and other fast-food vendors on the streets of Ahmedabad become subjects of their study of micro-enterprises which have all the business processes and strategies of a multi-national, albeit at a much smaller scale, and at much more comprehensible scale of operation. Students build a visual model of their observations and findings along with a smattering of business terminology to explain the cash flows and business strategies adopted by each of these micro-enterprises and leads to a better understanding of business processes as an area of study. The presentations are used by the teachers to instruct and inform the students of the relevance of such studies and the possibility of scaling up this study to medium and large businesses in principle. This is perhaps a painless way to learn about business and the understanding exhibited by our students is quite remarkable.

Prof M P Ranjan

1 comment:

Meena Kadri said...

Looks as engaging as always. Definitely my favourite class while teaching at NID. Missing all that fervoured activity & discussion that DCC is renowned for from down here in New Zealand.

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