This course will focus on an application of design thinking principles to designing products and services for the Bottom of the Pyramid. We will partner with a social enterprise in India, Mrida, which means soil in Sanskrit. Mrida works in rural India to “facilitate sustainable and scalable, holistic development at the Bottom of the Pyramid.” In six 90-minute sessions prior to Spring Break (Thursdays, 9 to 10:30), we will learn about India, and about Mrida’s work and the design challenges they face in specific areas such as agriculture, clean drinking water, skills training and creating market linkages. We will also learn about design thinking, a creative and systematic approach for solving problems by relying on human-centered and iterative processes.
Design thinking focuses on building initial rough product prototypes that are based on deep customer understanding of “jobs to be done.” These prototypes are tested soon and often and constantly evolve. Experimentation plays a big role in testing and refining potential solutions. The six pretrip sessions will include guest lectures, interactions with the client, workshops, and exercises. In India, students will be immersed in the lives of people living in the villages around Sultanpur or Bokaro (location tbd) in Northern or Eastern India. We will follow the principles of design thinking and use methods such as observation, in-depth-interviews and interactions with individual consumers to co-create products/service prototypes based on the insights we generate. These solution prototypes will also be tested with customers before being finalized for presentation to the client. Customer interviews, including interpretation, will be facilitated by Mrida. Examples of projects are provided in the syllabus.
We will be living in a village in India in nice (but not 5-star) hotels. The course is therefore for students with a sense of adventure and interest in social enterprise and developing markets. The class will meet in the Design Studio at Riverside Church, near campus, in the A term (Thursdays, 9 to 10:30). You must arrive in Delhi on or before 3/14 to attend the mandatory welcome dinner. We will take the train/flight on 3/15 to the location for the class (Sultanpur or Bokaro; 3/16 to 3/20 evening). We will get back to Delhi on 3/21.
THE GLOBAL IMMERSION PROGRAM AT COLUMBIA
Global Immersion Program classes bridge classroom lessons and business practices in another country. These three credit classes meet for half a term in New York prior to a one week visit to the country of focus where students will meet with business executives and government officials while working on team projects. Upon return from the travel portion of the class, students may have one wrap up meeting at Columbia Business School. The 2019-2020 Global Immersion Program fee for most classes is $1850 and provides students with double occupancy lodging, ground transportation and some meals; unless an increased fee is otherwise specified in the course description. It does not cover round-trip international airfare. Attendance both in New York and in-country and regular participation are a crucial part of the learning experience and as such attendance is mandatory. Students who miss the first class meeting may be removed from the course. No program fee refunds will be given after the add/drop period has closed. Please visit the Chazen Institute website to learn more about the Global Immersion Program, and visit the Global Immersion Policies page to review policies affecting these courses.
Meyer Feldberg Professor of Business
Gita V. Johar (PhD NYU 1993; MBA Indian Institute of Management Calcutta 1985) has been on the faculty of Columbia Business School since 1992 and is currently the Meyer Feldberg Professor of Business. She served as the school’s inaugural Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from 2019 to 2021, Faculty Director of Online Initiatives from 2014 to 2017, Senior Vice Dean from 2011 to 2014, and as the inaugural...