TinkerLabs' co-founder Ankur Grover shares the story behind one of TinkerLabs' most pivotal project. This project paved a path for their niche offering in the space of IT Services.
12th October 2015
Ranchi was gearing up for Durga Puja with lights and festivities, so Kunal and I decided to use this day to explore the city. We had spent the last weekend working, running a workshop for MBA students of IIM Ranchi. After the customary stop at the famous Kaveri Restaurant, we headed to a place I had been longing to visit- Dhoni’s residence. On the way to this landmark, I suddenly got a call.
“Hi, is this TinkerLabs?”
“Yes, this is TinkerLabs, how can I help you?”
“This is Sneha calling from L&T Infotech, we are exploring conducting a Design Thinking workshop for our senior leaders; would you be interested?”
Mind you, this was October 2015: some reality checks:
- We had never got a call from a prospective client inquiring about our services
- We were literally undiscoverable (sitting somewhere on the 5th page of Google Search- when one looked for “Design Thinking India”)
Outside Dhoni's residence in Ranchi
That whole day we shifted gears and through the entire flight to Mumbai- Kunal and I deliberated on “What can Design Thinking offer to an IT Services company”.
Earlier that year Infosys had announced that they were training 30K+ employees (now 1 lakh+ employees) on Design Thinking. Coming from institutes that produce the best in class engineers and techies, we both had kept in touch with friends and acquaintances, trying to understand “What exactly is Infosys trying to do”.
For two full days we scanned the entire IT Services space- from reading reports to understanding the history of the industry, from watching interviews of thought leaders to meeting people from the industry. Using all this information, we put together a tentative agenda for a 1-day Design Thinking Workshop for L&T Infotech’s senior leaders. L&T Infotech (LTI) had made up their mind that they wanted the Design Thinking intervention to start with a 1-day workshop. I still recall the energy on our worktable during those 2 days- both Kunal and I were fully charged!
Exactly a day after we shared our proposal, we got a call from Sneha seeking our availability to meet the Senior Leadership. Of course, we were available- and yeah, not just available.. excited!
The next day we met with the Business Unit Head of the Delivery function, Vice President of Delivery function and Head of the Consulting Practice. We shared with the team our journey into starting TinkerLabs, our excitement about Design Thinking and how we think Design Thinking could be of value to them and their industry.
Multiple Q&As and clarifications later we were thanked for our time and asked to await the next steps. As we were stepping out of LTI’s premise, the learning and development team shared with us that we were up against a few other organisations for this project - institutions like IIMs (A,B), seasoned Design faculty from NID, IIT IDC, and some consulting and design firms. I must be honest, I felt humbled at that point- we had just started building a company and were already being considered in the same league as people/organizations we really looked up to!
I also felt nervous, would LTI pick TinkerLabs to start their Design Thinking Journey with.
A week later my phone rang once again. It was the Learning and Development team. Palpitations. They began sharing that the senior leadership was impressed and had decided to work with us.
The workshop was scheduled for Dec 3rd 2015 and senior leadership, business unit heads were flying in from US, Europe, Australia for this workshop. Excitement and Pressure!
We had three weeks to put together a really solid program, which we did. It is this experience which set the base for one of our most popular services- Customized Design Thinking programs for IT Services Organisations.
A year and a half later, we have worked with LTI on multiple Design Thinking project- delivered multiple Design Thinking Workshops for their Delivery Teams and Consulting teams and Co-consulted (co-worked) with on one of their US based client-project
Our focused and niche understanding of - What can Design Thinking offer to IT Organisations has helped us work with other top IT Services companies in India - Tech Mahindra, Mindtree, HCL among others. Each of these partnerships has been special: a landmark in itself. I will share the story behind working with these clients in my subsequent blogs.
My memory often takes me back to the lunch table on the Dec 3rd where I asked “KNK” (EVP of Delivery)- "Why did you choose us over academic experts and other popular consulting firms?"
His answer is still very vivid in my head.
“Everyone was talking about Design Thinking being a generic problem solving or creativity tool. You are the only one who spoke about How Design Thinking could be relevant in the IT industry. Further, to us this is just a start of a journey and we are looking for partner who can be with us in pursuit as experts, friends, consultants and you gave us all the three flavors”.
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