Field Update: Back to School with THNK

THNK image from workshop

Even team members of an aspiring learning organization like TechChange need to go back to school from time to time. That’s why I’m excited to be in Amsterdam this week to attend THNK.

THNK is a leadership school in Amsterdam that offers part-time Executive Creative Leadership Program that attracts a blend of corporate change leaders, social entrepreneurs, and business entrepreneurs. Kudos to my dear friend and long-time co-conspirator Roshan Paul for nudging me to take this journey after we partnered with the Amani Institute for one of our courses on Intrapreneurship.

 So far it has been a truly exceptional experience. My classmates range from creative designers to corporate consultants, to teachers, to health care workers, to NGO leaders, to programmers. The common thread is a desire to improve ourselves as leaders in non traditional (creative) ways.

Some highlights include:

  • A “mini challenge” where we used a human centered design process to re-conceive how the park next to our campus could be re-imagined with investment and technology.

  • An “inspiration gallery” where we explored the latest innovations in early learning (ages 0-8) in preparation for our larger challenge on finding ways to use new technology to improve early learning.

  • Lots of amazing conversations over drinks, on the bus, in the park, with my classmates.

  • The incredibly healthy and mostly delicious food (although I had to sneak a brownie yesterday)


So far the experience has also raised lots of interesting questions related to our work and educational model  at TechChange:

  • How do we package the energy and social connectivity of a powerful in-person experience like this into an online learning environment?

  • How do we take a process like prototyping (in our case we used legos) that is very tactile and iterative, and replicate it in one of our TechChange courses?

  • How do we capture those informal moments (conversations on a bus or over beer) where so much learning takes place online?

  • And how do we sustain relationships across distances once the in-person classroom moments end in dynamic blended-learning models?

Maybe its not possible to replicate the classroom exactly and in every way but I’m not sure that should be the goal.

I do know that there’s so much more we can be doing to make online learning a more immersive and transformative experience and to find creative ways to complement, deepen and enhance learning with online tools. This has long been our passion at TechChange so I’m excited to develop new ways to enhance our model through my time here and to meet fellow travelers on a similar journey.

Lastly, I attempted to make the TechChange logo out of sand. Time to update our branding?

Sand logo

On second thought, maybe I’ll check in with our creative team first.

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