Design for management learning - Olaf Bach on ManagementRadio

3 minutes read


Management Kits founder Olaf Bach had the pleasure of being interviewed by Ulrich Hinsen on ManagementRadio, an audio journal for leaders. In the interview Olaf talks about why he started Management Kits, how we develop new Kits, and describes the Kits in action.  The interview is in German but we’ve added a condensed version for our English readers right below.

Click here to go to ManagementRadio or continue reading for the English version.

Design for management learning

ManagementRadio: What is the motivation behind Management Kits?

Olaf Bach: My original motivation to start Management Kits was the idea to combine my experience as a consultant and as an academic teacher. In each of these contexts there exists a gap between theory and practice. As a consultant, on the one hand, you quite often experience a gap between strategic work and implementation processes, and in the academic world, on the other hand, you often encounter difficulty in applying theoretical knowledge in the practical realm. With Management Kits, we’ve created a format that seeks to address both challenges at once.

MR: So how do you develop the kits?

OB: Academic literature serves as an important working basis. We start the Kit development process with an overview of relevant literature, compendia, or review articles on a subject in order to cover central aspects in the recent research history and really understand the key academic findings. In a second step, we develop frameworks and translate them into the form of a Kit Board – our canvas format. And finally, we run test workshops with people who face concrete challenges and have goals regarding the Kit’s topic and integrate their feedback into our Kit design for future users.

MR: What role does design thinking play in the development of the Kits?

OB: On a general level, design thinking influences our way of looking at management because we see management practice as a creative practice. This means every application of a theory, a model, or a tool needs a creative act – at least in the application of the abstract theoretical level to the concrete situation and making sense of the consequences. You’ll always need to adapt or add something from your own context in line with your strategy and your goals. Furthermore, in developing the Kits, we emphasize the user perspective as should be done in a well-run design project: How does our design affect the people in an organization who have to work within these processes? And finally, we seek not only to build design thinking methodologies into the Kits but also to apply design thinking principles to our own work as we involve users and incorporate their knowledge into our development process, and work with prototypes as well as iterations, test drives and feedback loops.

 MR: How do users apply the Kit?

OB: There are many approaches to using the Kits. Certainly they serve as a resource for managers, service providers, or other multipliers within an organization. The Kits also support a collaborative application across whole teams, serving as a resource for collective learning. In the first scenario, there's a lead actor who manages the implementation of the Kit. In the second scenario, whole teams work with the different elements of a Kit to work and learn together.

MB: Which experiences or requirements does one need to work with the Kits?

OB: Our main goal is to build the Kits in the most accessible format possible by concentrating on the essential aspects and tools for easy user access. Having said that, we do observe – especially in the course of testing our new prototypes when we’re still learning what an ideal kit design should look like – that experienced managers, consultants, or internal service providers within large organizations find it easier to appropriate the whole Kit (I’m referring to our first complete Organizational Structure Kit) and lead a work process with it. But we do constantly work on concentrating and simplifying the Kit format through the inclusion of our users’ perspectives in order to guarantee them immediate access to a complex management topic. 

Check out the preview of the Organizational Structure Kit to learn more