Some more news

It was a quiet and rainy month on May, here in Leuven. However several news are worth to be mentioned …

First the FT Executive Education rankings were out. Vlerick Business School is now #43 (up from #45 a year ago) in the customised report (the only Belgian school ranked if we except the CCL that just has a campus here). It is #41 (same as last year) in the open report (before Solay BS: #60). And everyone is happy! :-)

Then most of us defended their project – and from what I heard it was quite a successful year. Congrats for those who passed and good luck for those who will present soon!

And now Apollo students are busy with the IMEX business game. I already wrote about it earlier (here, here and here). This year we have four teams:

  1. Sky Whirlies, also on Facebook and on YouTube (and another video here)
  2. What’s up, also on Facebook
  3. ROB-O-Toy on Facebook and on Twitter
  4. TenSai Toys, aslo on Facebook and on Twitter

Visit their web/Facebook/Twitter pages and support them! More on the game in a coming post … ;-)

And last but not least, congratulations to Fabian Frola and Mark Willems for their participation in the 20km of Brussels. Both ran faster than Prince Philippe (respectively 1h35, 1h39 and 1h55).

Btw here is my certificate for 2013 ;-)

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Even an MBA can do it!

If you have 5 minutes to procrastinate before the Decision Sciences exam, here are two videos for you:

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;-)

 

This is the end (1 of x)

It is with some emotion that I announce you The End. Not yet the end of the MBA. But today was the last class of the last course (Decision Sciences for Business). So I want to take the opportunity to put some light on a commodity object that was the most used object during these two years: the red Douwe-Egberts cup for coffee or tea! They were able to keep us awake for some of the boring classes and kept us involved in the most interesting classes too ;-)

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Note the chocolate Easter eggs filling it: thanks Neuhaus and thanks Vesna for providing such excellent chocolate! :-p

One case – one exam (IT)

130419-alcanOn Thursday we took our penultimate exam, Value-Added Entreprise IT. Surprisingly there was only one question: “Solve the case” ;-) No, seriously there were 4 sub-questions to help us suggest a solution for the case. But the surprise was (IMHO – YMMV) that there was only one (big) case to solve: Alcan, taking on the challenge of IT management in a global business context. It’s a classical HBR case (there is also an Alcan case about environment issues for those who remember CSR/EHS). For those interested here is a presentation by Cihad Acar and some solutions from the Fox School of Business.

Since I unfortunately couldn’t attend many classes I was happy to see that readings could bring some ideas to answer the case and that I shouldn’t be too far from The Truth ;-) One thing that I was wondering is what is (or was) the general business strategy of Alcan at that time. In his class Prof. Viaene stressed that the (Corporate) Strategic Context should drive the IT/IS Strategy. I missed the global strategic context in the (part of the) case we received for the exam. I could see that some of the business division didn’t necessarily made sense (except if you need a conglomerate or a highly vertically integrated company): packaging for instance. Splitting the company would see efforts focused on core values (and the IT Strategy would follow and would have been easier to implement).

Now when you read the Wikipedia page of Alcan, you realise Rio Tinto acquired Alcan Inc. in 2007 (one year after the case) in a US$38 billion deal. But soon after it decided to sell its Engineered Products and Packaging business groups (something that was ultimately done 2 years ago, in 2011). This lead me to another question: we learned best practises for IT governance when dealing with the result of an acquisition (or a very anarchic organisation) – what about best practises for IT governance when dealing with a split? If Robert Ouellette succeeded in implementing an ERP system in the Engineerd Products division before 2011, how would the new IT organisation cope with this existing, heavyweight ERP after being sold to Apollo (sic) Global Management for instance? A quick thought tells me that they could keep the benefits of an integrated communication system offered by the ERP in place (without the sunk costs of implementation), being then a small piece in a bigger puzzle and needing to communicate with 3rd parties now outside their company.

Btw if you look at the management of Rio Tinto Alcan, the CFO is still responsible for IS&T, the person responsible for IT still holds a VP position but it’s not Robert Ouellette anymore (although he really exists but works now elsewhere) ;-)

Photo credit: Stan O’Neill (holding paddle) and Elmer Burley (guiding ingot into furnace), two firemen in the Remelt department, feed ingots to the re-melting furnace at the Aluminum Company of Canada by Library and Archives Canada (licence CC-by)

Here comes another Vlerick FTMBA student in the press …

retirement-bag-dollarsAmong the nearly 200 participants in the BusinessBecause When I Retire competition Vlad Damian, a Vlerick FTMBA, shared his vision of his world at retirement time, how he thinks the world will have changed at that time. It starts with …

By 2060 my grandchildren will ask me to explain what an email is and how it was used.

And I let you read the full post here. The story is nicely written (the challenge said no more than 300 words) and touches on communication bio-IT, merging two promising fields: biotechnology and IT. Vlad made it to the final, great!

It reminded the Enjoy Change campaign Vlerick started at the same time as its rebranding – without gifts ;-) But more importantly I was wondering how to apply all these nice idea, from a company perspective … All these ideas are fine but is it really how to create value with IT? What would be the strategic alignment of such products? What about the required IT infrastructure? What would be the role of the CIO in such organisation, his/her role in relation with the CSO (Chief Scientific Officer Ⓡ TM)? How would this IT portfolio be presented? And even if Vlad started mentioning it already, how would IT security and potential crisis be managed? As you can see I started to revise for the Value Added Entreprise IT course ;-)

Anyway, congratulations, Vlad!

(You can also find Vlad on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
Photo credits: Retirement by 401(K) 2013 on Flickr (licence CC-by-sa)

Some craftwork at Vlerick

Sometimes EMBA classes at Vlerick can take an unexpected turn and we end up creating something with our hands instead of tinkering with Excel, a calculator or simply our brain (it happens … sometimes). Last week Kosta Perric came as guest speaker for the course of Value-Added Entreprise IT. Kosta Perric is working at SWIFT and co-founded of Innotribe but is also a contributor to Forbes.com and an avid user of web 2.0 (Twitter, Google+, blog, etc.). As nearly all people working in and around innovation I’ve seen so far, Kosta Perric uses a Mac for his presentations ;-)

As I mentioned earlier he explained the innovation process and specificities at SWIFT/Innotribe with the castle and sandbox metaphor, something a bit similar to open innovation or Jef Staes’ red monkey (also seen previously here). If you are interested here is a very short summary of the presentation or watch the video below on the creation and purpose of Innotribe (the Innotribe channel on YouTube is also very nice to follow).

By the way, Kosta very briefly mentioned it but the metaphor is also the title of his book, The Castle and the Sandbox (sic) (but, unlike Jan Vermeiren, Kosta did not bring a free copy for each of us). Kosta’s blog has also a summary of the book.

And that’s when craftwork happened. On the second part of his talk, Kosta Peric asked us to work a little bit and, given a box of very fancy material, asked us to build what we thought was the castle and the sandbox. The message is simple, repeated several times and made ours by translating it into concrete craftwork … The methodology of knowledge transmission was also part of the learnings. Here are some pictures …

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Ok, I also have a video of somebody we discovered has storytelling talents but here I will only share the official workshop video :-)

See you soon for new adventures!

Amazon: a case for each e-supply topics

Prof. Muylle’s course on e-supply is just over and here comes a very interesting presentation in my mailbox: Amazon, the hidden empire. It has everything, from A to Z:

  • A vision
  • Customer-focus and -loyalty (with a digital twist)
  • Digital-driven supply chain
  • Ecosystem
  • e-Procurement marketplace (the end of TradCom?)
  • High-margin, low-prices
  • Insourcing the value chain
  • Limitless inventory
  • Logistics
  • Pricing strategies
  • The long-tail
  • Using internet as a lever to outperform competition
  • Vertical integrations
  • Zappos.com
  • there is even a kind of 2-by-2 matrix!

More on innovation, e-supply of scientific papers …

This second year in the EMBA at Vlerick Business School it seems that the point is more on innovation (somewhat like the focus was on finance during the first year). We had classes like Entrepreneurship (last year – pretty straightforward title) or Innovation Management this year. But even in courses like Operation Management or – more recently – Integrated E-Supply Management, we are faced with handling innovation.

I don’t know for you but very often I think the word innovation is over-used and also in any kind of situation (i.e. very often for something not innovative at all). So I was a bit apprehensive when I read that the course of Integrated e-supply management would – again – talk about how to innovate / embrace innovation / whatever (but fortunately very little about Apple). But I must say that the two sessions were so far very interesting, Prof. Steve Muylle sharing his passion for the “e” in e-supply.

As if it was meant to illustrate that, getting Prof. Muylle’s article on planning e-business initiatives in established companies is an example of a clash between the old model and the new one … In the old publishing model, you had a subscription to a journal  and you received your quarterly paper version delivered by your postman. I don’t know what will be the level 3 of e-publishing but right now the article is just available behind MIT’s paywall ($6.50). But Google (and any kind of search engine in fact) is disrupting this model by presenting you any result containing words in the title of the paper. It may happen that some results are not entirely relevant to your initial search but it may also happen that the electronic version of the paper is available somewhere, archived by some Irish professor for his class.

One can argue that this is theft! And they would be right: the paper’s copyright clearly states no one can copy it. But others could state that it’s just a collection of 0’s and 1’s, that it has a meaning because we are giving a meaning to it, that taxpayers’money paid for this research etc. This reminds me of one of the posters that is now hanging in the Vlerick campus: “If content is free, how can you make a living in a content-driven world?“.

Screenshot 01:02:13 01:41-3

I’m right! is now launched!

After some intense work and a group session, our Communication Skills assignment is finally launched! You saw the trailer previously, now you can discover the whole story here: http://imright.info.

framework-ABC

It is about (mis-)communication, the employee-boss relationship, frustration, unsaid things and lower performances. I had a lot of fun doing it with Sammy, Peter, Bart and Stijn. Thanks, guys!

Btw, Merry Christmas! :-)

The Saflex case

What I call the “Saflex case” is in fact the presentation Roger Bloemen did for us during the last course of Operations Management. I already mentioned that it was very good. I wanted to know more about the case that can be summarized as: “how to use operations to save and put back to profitability a company under chapter 11“.

You can find some sweet videos of the 80’s on Youtube:

(No animal were hurt during the shooting of this movie)

More interesting is the infomercial video made by Metascreen in which heads of Saflex were interviewed (Roger Bloemen did not appear). The emphasis on Saflex people is also there, in the end …

But when you dig further it is not that easy to find something about the Saflex case, even if you choose other names for this case. Because, if I’m right, there is no Saflex case per se. “Just” some academic papers on a MIT professor Yossi Sheffi’s website. You will find these papers by looking for Roberto Perez-Franco in Sheffi’s page about publications (ok, direct links here and here – they might break if Sheffi is changing his webpage). These paper deal with the evaluation of the supply chain strategy of companies. Already if companies had a supply chain strategy, it would be nice (and not the one you think of just in the middle of a crisis – the one you design and nurture for some time when times are good, forecasting maybe when times will be bad).

In fact Sheffi’s other publications are well worth reading (and could have been the source of inspiration for a group presentation if discovered earlier – a hint for next year students? ;-)).

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