Meet Haotian Cheng
Since graduating from Kaospilot, Haotian has been working as an innovation consultant for 3 years now. He supports 10 companies in China on their creative process, through workshops, training and projects.
After his studies in Denmark, he studied the Team Mastery coaching program from Mondragon Team Academy in Shanghai and started to work as a team coach for entrepreneurs team and college students teams. He has delivered 20 workshops on innovation board game PROTO and developed 10 “design your life” courses for professionals and college students.
Which team and when did you graduate?
Team 20, graduated in 2016.
What have you been doing since you graduated as a Kaospilot?
After I graduated, I went back to China, without really knowing what to do. I spent 2 years exploring many innovative communities in China, such as the Theory U community, design sprint China, Impact hub and TEDx. At the beginning, I was taking freelance work as a trainer and workshop facilitator for companies. These 2 years I spent, in retrospect, is necessary for me to land to a very different reality than Kaospilot.
Since then, I have been working in a small training and design agency at Let’s make great! I worked with companies to think outside the box on their business, and worked with young people on being creative on solving social issues. I also work with projects that I haven’t really got much expertise on, such as branding and marketing, and slowly, I connected many dots from business, creativity and teamwork.
Last year, I joined a program from MTA (Mondragon Team Academy) in China. I have been trained as a team coach for entrepreneurs. I am on my way to finish the master program. I have been team coaching students at MTA and Xingwei college in Shanghai. At the same time, I am trying to connect innovative educational projects around the world to the Chinese market.
What is important for you in your job?
First of all it is to always have an open mind to explore, because there are many opportunities in Shanghai, and the Chinese market is growing so fast. I know that I will always have a passion for education, and it is about finding a meaningful problem to solve and create a sustainable business.
It is also important to empathize and iterate fast, because you really need to discover the underlying needs and adapt to the scope of a project, so that you do not overwork to an extent that is not needed.
Last but not the least, it is important to have a routine with your team. It starts with a check in and then a dialogue with team members. Eventually important topics arise. Then we are ready to make collective decisions and reflect together.
What major learnings would you point out from your experience that have shaped you as a leader?
It is not an easy question to answer, but I believe a leader is someone who is able to take initiative on the things that are important to yourself and to the people who matters to you. It requires a lot of communication, routines with a team and the courage to be truthful. When things are not working well, you need to challenge the team to see the blind spots. Every week, we have a training session that we share with each other where we are as individuals and how different projects are going. This kind of routine is critical to stay connected and support each other on the things truly need to be done.
I had never been exploring the wilderness like many of my teammates, but we supported each other to prepare for living in the snow.
What is your biggest source for inspiration right now?
My biggest source of inspiration are the different teams I have connected with throughout the years. I have a coaching circle from Theory U, which has been supporting each other for the past 5 years. I have a team of team coaches who inspire me to support young entrepreneurs. I have a team of innovation consultants who are able to help businesses with their innovation challenges and nurture creativity within themselves. I also have my fiancé who understands my vision and supports my career as an entrepreneur and educator.
What would be an example of a learning or an experience from your time at Kaospilot that has been important to you?
What I truly appreciate from my time at Kaospilot was all the practical experience we got and experiments we made through working together from different teams. One example was the first year leadership exam. I had never been exploring the wilderness like many of my teammates, but we supported each other to prepare for living in the snow. I experienced how it felt to be a leader. There are also many activities that are very memorable, like jumping into the ice water, climbing on a pole, walking under the hot coal and using your throat to break a stick… These activities are truly about facing one’s fear and breaking one’s pattern.
If you know your “why” and have an environment that supports you, you would not walk on a lonely road, but on your personal path as a leader and a change maker
What is a piece of advice that you would like to give future Kaospilot graduates?
- See your differences as a strengths.
I believe as a Kaospilot, you have been trained to think differently than most people. You can feel lonely sometimes in a mainstream society, in which majorities follow existing rules. However, this is also one of your biggest strengths to notice problems other people ignore, because that is the birthplace for innovation.
- Try to be more and more clear about your the big “why”.
I had a period, where I felt not accepted, because I came back to China and questioned my decision to drop out of college to study at Kaospilot. However, this was a process to realize what I truly cared about. If you know your “why” and have an environment that supports you, you would not walk on a lonely road, but on your personal path as a leader and a change maker.