A Thinking Room

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Danni Wang (Newcastle)

ThinkingRoom In the new global economy, innovation has become a hot topic in most entrepreneurs. In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in create an innovation lab of an idea factory. Studies of Kania and Kramer (2011) show the importance of innovation workplace, it will enable people, communities and organizations to prosper in a changing world. The purpose of this essay is to make the Newcastle business school become an idea factory. The design idea is based on a question and the author hopes it can make the business more vigorous. This essay has been divided into four parts. The first part deals with the existing question and the vision of the idea factory, to explain how the space promotes the theme. Then the detailed design in the idea factory will be described. The third section is some specific events will be held in the idea factory to encourage the exploration. The fourth part is the guests, which means pointed out the specific skills and competences the idea factory will develop. Finally, the results section evaluates the results of this vision.

Before establishing this idea, the author communicated with quite a few classmates. Then combine her personal experience and regard an existence problem in business school as a starting point, and come out a concept design of idea factory. In business school, there always are a lot of interesting lectures which invited some famous experts or companies. While for some reasons sometime students may miss or cannot attend the lecture which they really want to listen. Additionally, before the lecture, students cannot acquire more information of it, except only a poster hanging in elevators, a advertise mail or a brief description in Facebook. In order to use the school guest lecture more effectively, the design of idea factory could solve this issue.

The vision of this idea factory is modeled around a notion called thinking. The World-famous doctor, theologian and humanitarian Albert Schweitzer wrote that give up clear thinking is equal to spiritual bankruptcy (Bruce, 1998). Thinking is an abstract term, which refers to process the accessed information, to have an opinion about someone or something. Thinking and innovation are closely linked, innovation is inseparable from thinking, and the first step of innovation is to broaden the way of thinking (Owen, 2006). Therefore, the purpose of this idea factory is to use information system to help students take initiative thinking of knowledge, widening way of thinking and coming up with new ideas.

According to Owen (2006), innovation need people think independently and then discuss with others such as brainstorming. So the design of this idea factory will divide the room in two parts. The first part is a closed studio where students can watch the lecture introduce video or lecture video record. In this space, the appearance of studio will be designed as a tree, and also the colors of inside the studio will be green-based colors. In the studio some plants will be put and the ceiling will be painted blue sky and white cloud. All this design allows students like in the nature when they sit in studio, and they will in a comfortable state, have no study burdens (Mattheck, 1998).

For electronic equipment, this studio will choose a large and high-definition touch screen, which allows people to make basic operations to the video conveniently. After watching it, people can make comments or put forward their own ideas on the video discussion area. This function will be achieved by a number of supporting tablets so that students can note their thoughts at any time during the period of watch recording. Of course the basic paper and pen will be provided; if someone prefers handwriting they can write ideas on paper. Then these comments and ideas will be arranged by administrators, and put it into the database avoiding data loss. In addition, students could write some expectation to the future lecture, it will be fed back to the lecture guest and make the latter lecture more targeted. If students pointed out questions when they watch the record video, these question or thoughts will be send to lecture guest regularly and soon students could have the response.

The second part is an open place which is the outside of the studio. In this space, all kinds of facilities for people to communicate and discuss with others will be offered. For instance, various shapes of tables, sofas and chairs will be placed in this space. The colors of this furniture will be very bright, which will not let people produce visual fatigue and can promote inspiration. Meanwhile, the height and shape of the furniture is not same, the reason is that idea factory is unlike to conference room or classroom. In this idea factory, people can sit in a different posture and interact with others. Since the idea factory will hold different activities, the furniture is flexible and it can be used with different themes freely to create appropriate interactive space (Owen, 2006). The Wall color will choose sky blue, this color can make people feel tranquil and forget the stress. A big touch screen will be installed on the wall and it can show and review other people’s thoughts or add new ideas and comments at any time. In this part, a tea room which includes a coffee maker is also designed, and it will provide some basic drinks for students free to add drinks. The function of tea room is to attract more students into this space, and also make this idea factory more attractive (Verganti, 2013). Finally, there will be a display outcome area. It will display some achievements of students which completed in this space, while before the exhibition it must obtain the author’s permission.

Some specific events such as brainstorming, case study and workshop will be held in the idea factory. The purpose of these events is to encourage the exploration and appropriation of the idea factory. For example,through matching the flexible furniture to provide a suitable space for students held brainstorming, to point out their own thoughts. Listen to other people’s thoughts might spark inspiration and come up with new ideas. Or some real companies’ situation could be chosen to conduct a case study. Students could collaborate with others to work out a business plan to help them. Besides, this space can organize a workshop to help students learn the skills which they are interested in.

The aim if this idea factory is to develop the innovative, creative and entrepreneurial capacities of people, organizations and communities, unlocking their potential to generate wealth and to control their own futures. The benefits of this idea factory could be divided into two aspects. Benefits for students from the business school would include: 1) built a place where students can develop their ideas. To produce a new idea is a complex process, this idea factory hope students can find their interests in this space and come up with a new product, service or business method. 2) The ability to deep thinking of knowledge. The introduction video of lecture can promote student thinking ahead, the review record video and brainstorming help students develop a proactive thinking capacity and point out questions. 3) Applying concepts that learned in class through the application of practices. In normal times, there is no chance to practice the course content after course; however, in fact practice could be the best way to deep understand the knowledge. 4) Enhance communicate and management skills. In today’s society, a talent is first to have good communication and management skills. In idea factory, students can develop communication skills through discussing with others and organizing specific events to increase teamwork ability.

Turning to the Sponsor benefits, it would include: 1) Effective use of limited resources and realize maximize efficiency. For business schools, the purpose of hold guest lecture is benefit to students; students can initiatively learn more specific skills from these lectures through the idea factory. 2) Understand students’ thoughts. Through analyzing the data, business school can know what kind of lectures students are interested in, better planning for the future scheme, to provide the lectures that students really want to know. 3) Gaining access and discussing innovative concepts and best practices. At the same time, it will enhance the publicity of Newcastle business school. Companies will be glad when they are invited to give lectures in business school. Not only can let others know their company better, but also the students’ idea might promote the companies development; this can be called a win-win solutions.

For the results of this idea factory, it will be evaluated from three aspects. The first aspect is the flow of people. When people entering into this idea factory, swiping smart card is necessary, so the daily flow people rate can be counted by the enter records. If the flow rate is high, it shows that this idea factory is welcomed by students. The second aspect is the participant comments. Every people entering the idea factory have the chance to express their views of the current factory facilities which includes facility and rule. Every once in a while, the administrator will collect and account these comments, and make use of these feedbacks to improve the innovation laboratory. The more comments the idea factory has the more space it can be improvement. Meanwhile, it can indirectly reflect the high participation rate of this space. The last aspect is the number of ideas produced. Idea is intangible, perhaps it will be a new product, service or business method. This aspect can be evaluated by the results from the display outcome area. The number of the successful achievements will reflect the results of this idea factory.

This essay has described an idea of to make a business school become an idea factory. The core vision of this idea factory is thinking. All the detailed design of idea factory is to support the vision, and also an effect picture is shown to help readers to understand author’s idea more easily. Some specific events such as brainstorming, case study and workshop will be held in the idea factory. Then listed several benefits the idea factory will develop for both guests and sponsors. Finally, three evaluation criterions could be used to evaluate the results of this vision. The author hopes that this idea could be useful in the development of Newcastle business school and let it become more vigorous.


  • Bruce, G. (1998) ‘Go East, young man: Design education at Samsung’, Design Management Journal (Former Series), 9(2), 53-58.
  • Kania J. and Kramer M. (2011) Collective Impact.
  • Available at: http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/collective_impact (Accessed: 20 May 2014)
  • Mattheck, C. (1998) Design in nature: learning from trees. Springer.
  • Owen, C. L. (2006) ‘Design thinking: Driving innovation’, The Business Process Management Institute, 1-5.
  • Verganti, R. (2013) Design driven innovation: changing the rules of competition by radically innovating what things mean. Harvard Business Press.