d.studio reflections on the Fall 2013 lululemon studio

The d.studio hummed last term with two major projects for the B. Comm students — one section tackled a business model project for the Pacific Newspaper Group.

The other section engaged with a series of projects from lululemon.  I was honoured and delighted to have Nancy Richardson join me each Wednesday afternoon for three hours of learning and exploration.  Nancy is the VP of Global and Digital Branding at lululemon athletic.  She is a keen and talented teacher and the students and I are extremely grateful for her contributions to the d.studio.

Student teams worked on four different projects:

  • The Men’s Line — exploring different options for expanding this line of business
  • Metta Movement — exploring ways to grown and make more effective lulu lemon’s grassroots community philanthropy program.   http://sustainability.lululemon.com/giving-communities/
  • Sustainable Packaging — exploring the future of our favourite bags — how to make them more sustainable and even more fun
  • Vision and Goals — exploring the role of vision and goals in the lives of lulu lemon’s guests and educators

It was such a great experience for the students to have Nancy’s real-time experience of how a global business the size and scale of lululemon operates on a strategic and tactical basis.  Like any business — there are ups and downs.  Nancy asked the students great questions and through that process they learned and were able to comment on and critique responses to the evolving challenges of a global enterprise in a social media world.

I thought it might be fun to share some of the comments from the students about the d.studio in general and the lululemon projects in particular.

“The most valuable aspects of this course was the real world connection.  It has been a real eye-opener for me as a business student.  Moving forward, I will take all I have learned and apply the concepts and processes as much as possible. It has had a profound affect on my approach to bussiness problems, but also on how I view myself. It has built up my self-confidence.”  Thomas Rowe

“The importance of depth and imagination and options and impact as well as asking about meaning and opportunities is lost when I don’t take the time to figure out what my actual goal and purpose is, or what resources I need to accomplish them. With this class, I had the opportunity to explore and fully participate in each stage, or “live in the grey” as Nancy puts it, and I think it made the end result much stronger.  Alexandra Lam

“Given the client-focused, MBA style pedagogy of many Sauder courses, my classmates and I have read and analyzed, and learned from dozens of cases where organizations have failed to remain competitive in their industries. More often than not I have noticed ‘inadaptability’ as a contributing factor, if not the root cause, of the companies. Through Nancy’s anecdotes of the Lululemon work-environment it’s apparent that Lululemon is a quick-paced environment, constantly in a state of change and improvement through innovation and collaboration. In my opinion this work-culture was carried over to the Design Studio. Over the course of a single lecture it wasn’t uncommon for my Metta Movement team to go through ASK.TRY.DO. or The Cycles of Success sequence multiple times – changing our focus or goal each cycle. I think this quick-paced environment was an essential ingredient in finding success. It allowed our group to maintain objectivity in the decisions we made and keep up with the active ecosystem we were immersed in.” Laura Matthews

This was probably one of the best classes I have taken during my undergraduate studies.  At times I struggled with the ambiguity but I learned to live in it.  At times I struggled with my group mates but I learned to work around it.  At times I struggled with the concepts in class but I learned to adapt to it.  At times we had bad ideas.  But, damn, at times we had good ones.”  Stephen Lang

Am hoping that Nancy and I can team-teach again next year.  I learned a lot — and I know the students did too.  Thanks Nancy.


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