KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 — Participants of the Asia Leadership Trek (ALT) begun their four-day journey in Malaysia today with a two-hour pit stop at the nation’s only design thinking-dedicated school, Genovasi Malaysia.
The programme, organised by scholars from Harvard University and under the auspices of the Centre for Asia Leadership (CAL) Initiatives, was aimed at fostering dialogue between ALT participants, who are also known as “trekkers”, and industry players.
CAL Initiatives co-founder and president Samuel Kim said the visit was enriching for trekkers from other countries, including Canada, the United States, and Japan, as they get to expose themselves to what is happening in Malaysia.
“The support that Genovasi receives from the Prime Minister shows that the government is eager to promote and encourage innovation. It pushes the concept of thinking beyond comfort zone.
“I hope the trekkers will now have a good sense about where the Malaysian government is heading and the work that Genovasi is doing,” he told Malay Mail.
In the visit, the trekkers were introduced to Genovasi’s role as a hub to promote design thinking through interactive sessions like mini tours, warm-ups and round-table discussions.
Kim said Genovasi’s efforts to inculcate design thinking across the board — from the public and private sectors to non-profit groups — may help elevate Malaysia into becoming a model nation especially in the South-east Asia region.
“We are glad to see that Malaysia is dedicated to find better, more efficient and more productive ways of doing things. Malaysia may be able to brand themselves as a model in the region,” he said.
During the dialogue session, Genovasi Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Lee Yew Meng said although the design thinking concept originated from the West, it helps liberate people in the East who are known to be heavily influenced by cultural practices.
“In our culture, when a younger person responds without being asked to, that is considered backtalk.
“Hopefully when more and more started inculcating design thinking in our daily life, we may be able to liberate our minds by encouraging us to think. We do, after all, have a bit of a catch up to do,” he said.
The trekkers consisted of students and working professionals from Kyrgyzstan, Canada, the United States, Netherlands, Mongolia, India, Turkey, Japan, and Malaysia.
They were representing Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Malaysia is their fifth stop after journeying across Georgia, Azerbaijan, India, and Singapore from December 24 last year.
The trekkers will end their journey on January 13 after visiting South Korea and Japan next.