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!

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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?“.

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Don’t shoot the red monkey

Last Friday, I think we had our most controversial class. Prof Dr Dirk Buyens (Human Resource Management) warned us in advance. We were not deceived: Jef Staes is really different than previous lecturers. Given the affiliations and public profiles of some future guest lecturers, I doubt we will have anyone so different anymore.

In my opinion, in order to bring new ideas, you have to somehow be radical in your ideas. Or maybe it’s just the enthusiasm in the way to express those controversial ideas. Anyway Jef Staes began with the idea that if you don’t use twitter (he is @jefstaes) and every “social media” tools or if you don’t know how to publish a video clip of yourself on the internet, you are losing time in an MBA class. Take it literally and two students left the room because they couldn’t agree (and I think they were right to do so). Take it as a metaphor and you might agree that if you can’t use all the resources available to get the information, you have a handicap compared to other managers, compared to other teams.

I will not summarize 3.5 hours of course here but, in a nutshell, Jef Staes presented more a vision about how innovation should be handled in a company, the part of information availability / social media being something to build upon.

I brake for red monkeysPersonally, being part of an innovation process in my company, I already saw most of the behaviors Jef mentioned. It was nice to understand that these negative behaviors were not specific to my company but things that are usually “there” when people innovate. Jef Staes added that next (“3D”) managers will need a vision, lots of passion and be able to use all the information available, via all possible channels.

Note: for those who wonder what is a red monkey, Jef Staes published several videos on YouTube. Here are some of them …

Photo credit: I brake for red monkeys by myself ;) on Flickr (CC-by-sa)

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