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An opening night to remember

The second day of the Hasso Plattner d-school Afrika’s d.confestival kicked off with even more energy and vibrance. The day’s discussions delved even deeper into some of the complex challenges society and businesses face today while celebrating the role design thinking plays in these arenas.

Interrogating what leadership design could look like for the future

The first keynote dialogue included JP Morgan’s Sam Yen, HR executive and business coach, Jeanett Modise, and Jack Frost-founder Paul Steenkamp, discussing ‘New leadership mindsets that enable creativity, innovation and motivation in a life-centred world of work’.

“In our current business leadership structures, line managers are the toughest nut to crack,” observed Paul Steenkamp. “In practice, this business community is the most influential, and their buy-in is imperative in getting things done in new, more innovative ways.”

Ubuntu inspired leadership

In the following panel discussion, ‘I am because we are: Charting an Ubuntu-inspired roadmap for inclusive, responsible design leadership’, Ulrich Meyer-Höllings facilitated a diverse panel of leaders examining the case for non-hierarchical leadership models with the Afrikan philosophy at its core.

“Ubuntu offers design thinking a complimentary lens on how to look at teamwork, collaborative and participatory processes,” says panellist and Transdisciplinary Industrial Designer, Educator, and Researcher Mugendi M’rithaa. He further proposed a revised version of the Ubuntu philosophy’s definition for the business and societal context as: “I participate; therefore, I am.”

Seeing design-thinking in action

Speakers delved deeper into the discipline’s various real-world applications in the four parallel sessions themed Design Thinking in Practice. In one of the sessions, practitioner Colin Skelton unpacked how the human body could be used as a design tool. “Our bodies are domains of learning,” says Skelton. “Through design thinking, we’re able to celebrate the body as a mobile laboratory.”

As these sessions concluded, delegates were taken on d.safari tours to various destinations in and around Cape Town, including Montebello, the V & A Waterfront and Mitchell’s Plain, to immerse themselves in ongoing innovation projects with design thinking at their core.

An opening night to remember

The day ended on a high note with the official opening and unveiling of the plaque ceremony for the Hasso Plattner d-school Afrika building with Prof Dr Hasso Plattner, UCT Vice-Chancellor Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng, Director of the Hasso Plattner d-school Afrika at UCT Richard Perez, and Andreas Peschke, German Ambassador to South Africa.

“This is all about and for the students,” says Prof Dr Hasso Plattner. “This institution has the potential to become a lighthouse of creative thinking on the African continent”, says Andreas Peschke.

Guests took to the dance floor into the night with sounds from house trio Mi Casa, and DJ Rene The Frenchman.

The final day will look at Teaching, and Learning Design Thinking in Afrika and weave insights from World Café-style sessions and conclude with a call to action beyond the d.confestival.