Monthly Archives: January 2014

Learning to See the World: Application of Design Thinking in Education

The purpose of education is learning; learning to see the world, critique it, interact with it and relate with it. There’s a quote by the writer E.M. Forster that says:

“Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.”

If we expect education to help members of our society to build things such as a business, a rocket ship, a masterpiece, a software program, or a soccer team, we must teach young people to see the possibilities of creating something relevant, innovative, and meaningful. Education should attempt to show the world in all its complexity.

Today’s Latin American youth are already interacting with the world. We live in highly transaction- based environments. Recent studies show that in certain cases, our attention span is a mere eight seconds. But education is not a zero sum game. It is not necessary for education to compete with these distractions in order to gain a foothold in the lives of young people. Instead, we need to reframe these “distractions” and invite more interaction from community, business, family, arts, or sports in the realm of education. Overspecialization or excessive focus on one aspect of education detracts from the overall learning experience.

One of the current crises facing education in the region of Latin America is that young people – from all walks of life – are not finding relevance in formal education. Graduate XXI has generated some amazing solutions from a diverse community of what can be done about the 50% school desertion rate in Latin America. It’s a topic that concerns us all.

My idea is the application of design thinking to education in Latin America. Design thinking is about designing something – in this case education – for the heart (emotions) as well as the hand (practice). If we apply design thinking to education in Latin America we would start with the question: “what would an ideal educational experience look like?” and then go on to engineer that experience. We would look at the entire educational experience – in and outside the classroom – to see where we can improve the experience; whether it be making travel to and from school safer or giving more autonomy to teachers – the lifeblood of education and learning.

One real life example of this can be found with “”; a European initiative that reframes education as a learning expedition. It is a multidisciplinary approach to education; it lets young people be creative as well as learn the skills required to take their creations and put them into practice. Referring to E.M. Forster’s quote, why not ask “what might a spoon look like for an alien?” of “how might we replace the spoon?”

Rather than look at how we can identity youth at risk of leaving school, why not ask what an ideal educational experience for those youth would look like? Why should we look at alternative education after a student has left school when we can offer a richer and more relevant learning experience at the very start of a student’s voyage of discovery and learning?

We all have the innate ability to create and that’s why learning to see the world is the most valuable education we can give our young people. By embracing the complexities of life in Latin America – rather than ask a student to choose between family, friends, economic subsistence, community, or non-conventional goals and aspirations – we can expect higher levels of engagement, participation and interaction with education and schooling and drive down school desertion rates.


Author’s note: This is a longer version of an idea I submitted to Graduate XX1 on the subject of high school desertion rates in Latin America. The short version (Idea 77) can be found here:

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Networks and Global Solutions


The first month of 2014 is drawing to a close. January has shaped up to be an interesting month for many of us. We have been able to “action” some of our New Years Resolutions and perhaps try something new in our business and in our community.

For Hipona Consulting, we are proud to be representing Scoopshot (P2S Media Solutions Ltd) in Latin America as their partner for the region.

It’s a wonderful gift to be able to combine what we love doing (connecting business and brands), with technology (the Scoopshot platform is amazing) and with our passion for building business in Latin America.

In celebration of our partnership with Scoopshot in the region and to the power of crowdsourcing – whether it be projects, ideas, design or photos – I am sharing with you an article that I wrote for America Economia on how the internet is facilitating global problem solving. The full article is available here.

Thanks for following our blog and looking forward to what the next month of 2014 has to bring!


Redes y Soluciones Globales
Por Esther Clark

¿Por qué miles de personas se organizan a través del internet para resolver un problema? ¿Significa esto que estamos viviendo un importante cambio estructural sobre cómo nos organizaremos en el futuro y del liderazgo en general?

En los últimos diez años han surgido varios proyectos, libros, talleres y presentaciones que analizan el uso del internet y de las redes para resolver problemas. No hablo de aplicaciones o de plataformas que nos ayudan a encontrar un bien o un servicio que necesitamos, sino de unos proyectos que concientizan el por qué de la colaboración online y del impacto de esta colaboración en nuestras vidas y en las vidas de los demás.

El mes pasado tuve la oportunidad de conversar con Don Tapscott, autor y co-autor de 15 libros, incluyendo Macrowikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet (2010) y uno de los fundadores del proyecto Global Solution Networks (Twitter: @GlobalSN). Tapscott hizo una presentación durante el Peter Drucker Fórum en Viena donde explicaba que el internet está uniendo personas e inteligencia a nivel global. Dijo que no es una era de información sino de comunicación, colaboración, participación e inteligencia colectiva.

Lo que me fascina en este tema no es sólo cómo el internet está facilitando la comunicación de ideas sino cómo el liderazgo está cambiando. Como dice Rachel Botsman, autora de Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption (2012) y quien hizo famoso el “collaborative consumption” (consumo colaborativo), los términos como economía colaborativa, consumo colaborativo, economía de compartir, economía de pares (“peer economy” en inglés) son distintos pero tienen algo en común: el poder está siendo redistribuido a redes de individuos y comunidades. Eso hace que los consumidores ya no sean tan pasivos y tengan la posibilidad de ser creadores, colaboradores, financistas, productores, proveedores y líderes en estas comunidades a través de plataformas como,, o Los activos están siendo utilizados de una manera diferente, el poder del “crowd” tiene efecto y nuestra contribución a la definición de los líderes (empresas y personas) está cambiando también.

Una de las preguntas que Tapscott está explorando en el proyecto GSN es el futuro de estas redes. ¿Cómo pueden los pilares de la sociedad – gobierno, sociedad civil, empresas e individuos – unirse de mejor manera para tener las respuestas a los problemas globales – calentamiento global, pobreza, seguridad alimenticia etc.?

Les dejo con dos links de presentaciones en de Tapscott y Botsman, que hablan con ejemplos claros sobre este tema y los efectos y oportunidades de un mundo más conectado y colaborativo y, confiamos en que más inteligente.

Tapscott: Botsman:

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Savvy Saturday January 25, 2014

“Authentic brands don’t emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies. They emanate from everything the company does. . .” –Howard Schultz

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What do entrepreneurs talk about?

Image of brain at work from

Image of brain at work from

It’s a question that I sometimes get asked. The interrogator – usually trying to make conversation – has no idea that he or she is going to get a rather less than earth shattering answer which I will share with you in a minute…

Entrepreneurs in this day and age are seen, for the most part, as “the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes…” (Steve Jobs). There is this kind of cult of entrepreneurship that even makes large industry leaders take notice and state they want to be more “entrepreneurial”. Perhaps it’s because there’s this idea (which I support) that entrepreneurs are agents of change and are people that challenge the status quo. In fact, in many of my articles for Forbes I talk about this dimension of business – the need for business today to challenge old notions of “business for making money” and restore the idea that business should be relevant to all stakeholders. Building brands that have meaning and that answer the question WHY coherently and authentically is just the first step to being change makers.

So what is it that entrepreneurs talk about? In my 21 years of experience – started my first business at 15 – entrepreneurs often talk about implementation. That’s right, creating order (or at least the semblance of order encapsulated in a product or service) out of chaos. They integrate different models to come out with something “different”; looking at partnerships, investment and even a $3 USB cord to fix the motor of a car prototype (I’m quoting Elon Musk here).

Entrepreneurs talk about implementation and about money; not as the reason for starting our business or growing it but as a means to create our prototype, develop our “proof of concept” and scale our business.

I have had the honor and the challenge of working directly with more than 10 start-ups and I have witnessed first-hand that entrepreneurs are out to change the world but in small and incremental ways; we spend our time finding out how to implement our idea for the best impact.


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Savvy Saturday January 18, 2014

“O snail
Climb Mount Fuji
But slowly, slowly!”
― Kobayashi Issa

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Red Queen and Leadership

Today I am sharing with you a recent article published in America Economia entitled: “La Reina Roja” y el liderazgo. The article can be found here. I have pasted it below for reference.

Here is a short summary in English:

In the second part of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”, Carroll talks about how the inhabitants under the rule of the Red Queen must be in constant movement just to stay in the same place. I take this analogy and apply it to business – inspired by Hagel’s talk at the Global Drucker Forum 2013. I talk about how integration – within and outside – an organization is the best way to not only “keep up” with a world in constant movement but to help shape that world.

We do this by linking up factors that encourage innovation. Specifically by 1) redesigning the environments in which we work 2) connecting resources in and out of the organization and 3) being passionate.

“I have never seen results without passion” – Drucker


“La Reina Roja” y el liderazgo
Por Esther Clark

En la obra “A través del espejo y lo que Alicia encontró allí”, la segunda parte de “Alicia en el País de las Maravillas”, de Lewis Carroll, los habitantes del país donde reinaba la Reina Roja tenían que estar en movimiento constante para quedarse en el mismo lugar. Es decir, en un mundo o sistema dinámico sólo los que cambian, innovan o están en mejora continua pueden sobrevivir. ¿Suena familiar?

La semana pasada en Viena, Austria, tuve la oportunidad de conocer en el Peter Drucker Global Fórum 2013, a los líderes del mundo de “Management Thinking”, Innovación y Liderazgo (link: John Hagel III, Co-Chairman del Center for the Edge de Deloitte & Touche, habló de la significancia de la complejidad en las personas y organizaciones y explicó que el futuro de las organizaciones y del liderazgo de tales instituciones se encuentra no sólo en el aprender, sino en que el aprendizaje sea escalable; que la investigación y el desarrollo no son iguales a la innovación; que la innovación implica la capacidad de coordinar el aprendizaje a través de entidades y funciones distintas. De hecho, el tema de integración -dentro, fuera y entre organizaciones a través de redes- era uno de los temas que traspasó casi todas las discusiones del Drucker Fórum.

Hagel mencionó a la “Reina Roja” como una metáfora de la situación actual en la que se encuentran las organizaciones. Para los que no conozcan la Hipótesis de la Reina Roja, esta habla de la evolución para mantener el statu quo de los actores con su entorno.

Pero ¿mantener el statu quo? ¿Es esa la “tarea” de los líderes de nuestra querida región de América Latina? Seguro que no. Y allí llega la tesis de Hagel en su presentación de la semana pasada: fomentando el aprendizaje y conectando a las personas inteligentes y talentosas, dentro y fuera de nuestras organizaciones, se puede llegar a “scalable learning” o “aprendizaje escalable”. Se puede aprovechar del dinamismo y complejidad del entorno para construir empresas que no sólo sobreviven, sino que se convierten en organizaciones relevantes y exitosas en el mundo de ahora. ¿Cómo?

1.- Rediseño del ambiente de trabajo hacia una organización conectada con un mundo dinámico (ej. estructuras organizacionales no lineales);

2.- Uso de las redes para integrar talento dentro y fuera de la organización; y,

3.- Pasión.

La implementación de estas tres maneras para fomentar el “aprendizaje escalable” requiere de tiempo, perseverancia y compromiso, pero el rol de la pasión se puede explicar con una frase sencilla y directa de Peter Drucker:

“Nunca he visto resultados cumplidos sin pasión”.

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Savvy Saturday January 11, 2014

south america

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela

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Local firms and multinationals in emerging (LatAm) markets


Have you ever wondered what advantages local firms in emerging markets – like Latin America – have over their large resource-rich multinational competitors? There’s a great piece (written by John Jullens) that I discovered today in Strategy+Business magazine and it builds the case for strategy (and not just implementation) when doing business in/with/from emerging markets.

In relation to my business and the work of Hipona Consulting, I found the following particularly interesting:

…Local firms are far better at overcoming such voids than multinationals, not because they’ve somehow developed a superior operating model but simply because they’re often still run by their founder‒¬¬entrepreneurs: well-connected industry veterans who are adept at finding practical work-around solutions and still make most important decisions by themselves. In contrast, multinationals lack the local market understanding and personal relationships with government officials and other stakeholders, and are often hindered by their own time-consuming global decision-making processes.

That’s what Hipona Consulting does – it bridges the “either or” scenario. Hipona fosters collaboration between the entrepreneur, “well conected industry veterans”, emerging markets and the larger (international) organizations. All can then benefit from 1) resources and international expertise 2) practical work around solutions and 3) solid knowledge of Latin American (emerging!) markets.


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Complexity and Education in Latin America

Last month I submitted an idea to the Inter American Development Bank on how to get students more “engaged” with education in Latin America. It’s my response to a troubling problem: nearly 1 out of every 2 young people in Latin America does not finish high school. You can find my idea to the IDB “Graduate XXI” competition here in English or in Spanish (choose Spanish option at top of page).

For me, education is the basis for building better societies, communities and businesses. It’s the foundation for us to convert our ideas into reality.

Would love to get your feedback as I have another interesting idea on designing a better education system which I will share with you soon!


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