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Amazon share insights with MBA students

11 February 2019
Our MBA community team with Amazon to support CanTeen.
Twenty five students and alumni from our MBA programs were selected to attend a workshop facilitated by Amazon to create innovative solutions facing not-for-profit, CanTeen. Three of the participants share their experience.

Frances Cameron, full-time MBA student

Frances Cameron

When I heard that the University of Sydney Business School was providing students with the opportunity to learn about innovation at Amazon, I knew I wanted a seat at the table. Amazon’s colossal success can be attributed in part to Jeff Bezos’ singular and innovative leadership, and as a full-time MBA student, I knew that the workshop would be both inspiring as well as invaluable.

The workshop taught us about Amazon’s 'Working Backwards' mechanism, and also allowed us to apply it to a legitimate challenge currently faced by CanTeen, an organisation that helps support young people affected by cancer. The workshop gave us the tools as well as the hands-on application practice, which took Amazon’s mechanisms from concept to concreteness.

The workshop also provided CanTeen with five innovative potential solutions to the challenges that they face as an organisation. It was inspiring to learn a new way of approaching the complex issues that we face in today’s world, and Amazon’s commitment to experimentation and their unique problem-solving approaches acknowledge that complexity.

Stephanie Brownlee, part-time MBA student

Stephanie Brownlee

It was a great day of design learning with the teams at Amazon and CanTeen. I loved that these organisations were brought together to share knowledge and put it into practice. I particularly enjoyed rapid problem-solving with CanTeen and seeing what they took away from the day.

When I was at Deloitte Digital, I was focussed on strategic design and technology and have since been exposed to different design methods but not Amazon’s! This was a rare opportunity with the University of Sydney Business School to understand how their process works and shapes their market impact.

It was fantastic to see how Amazon's innovation method is purpose-made to democratise design. With some robust research, any idea can be brought to the table by anyone. I agree that design shouldn't be reserved to a designated team. This is key to diverse thinking and inclusive outcomes. I am excited to test this further in our design process at Faethm AI.

Derek Taprell, MBA ’18, Manufacturing Manager (Externals) at Saluda Medical

Derek Taprell

It was really exciting to have Amazon partner with CanTeen Australia to teach us about their innovation process using a real-world problem. 

The team from Amazon were able to transplant their 'customer obsession' culture into the classroom and this energy infected the students with creativity. It was fast-paced, but one day was enough time to learn about the process and to make our first iteration of a solution to CanTeen’s problem statement.

I really enjoyed the collaborative divergent and convergent ideation processes used to develop our final product concept. The activities really highlighted how a structured process and a diverse team can result in a unique solution.

Working in a highly regulated medical devices industry, I was really interested learning how to innovate within constraints and about new ways of working that could be used to improve our organisational processes. This workshop has challenged me to think about how the design thinking process and agile development could be tailored to work in my industry and how I could evolve my mindset to ‘operate at speed, not at perfection’. As a start-up company we are still establishing our processes and I believe that there is a lot to learn from how other technical companies like Amazon operate at speed while delivering quality outcomes.

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