Fridays from the Frontline: RE:creation triumph at C4Bi competition
Fridays from the Frontline
Case competitions, those hubs of innovation for student entrepreneurs, are unsung components of the MBA experience. They are opportunities for novices to explore the depths of their imaginations, experiment with new methodologies, and see if their discoveries resonate with a panel of experts. Case competitions are also serious business for MBA programs. Many ideas that were incubated in competitions go on to have lives beyond the incubator.
Current Oxford Saïd Business School student Katherine Abbott took to the Oxford Saïd blog to talk about her experience at the recent C4Bi competition.
The following piece has been republished in its entirety from its original source, “Oxford Saïd Business School Blog.”
Its 6:45pm, we have 15 minutes to finalise a presentation to FC Barcelona, copy check a letter on Chef Ferran Adria’s ‘creative audit process’ and make sure our strategic recommendations make sense.
This moment of the ‘Creativity for Business Innovation’ competition arrived ten hours after sitting around a boardroom table, trying not to be overheard by competing teams in the boardrooms nearby. Our team, RE:creation, was made up by two South Africans (one of them me), one dry humoured Canadian, a perfectionist from India, a friendly but-all-business Brazilian and a go-getter from Taiwan. The first three represented our (awesome) team from Oxford and the rest an (equally awesome) team from ESADE Business School. We are now friends for life. 48 hours of intense competition can do that to you.
Our Oxford team was fortunate enough to win the first round case competition at Said Business School. A few weeks later, we were on the plane ready to meet our ESADE counter parts in Barcelona.
The competition – to find innovation for FC Barcelona – was a fury of activity:
Day one included meeting Ferran Adria at the elBulli Foundation, and hearing about his relentless pursuit of creativity. His work, after he closed his world-renowned restaurant in 2011, is to help organisations discover space for creativity. The process or ‘creative audit’ involves intense research, interrogation and comparison. He spoke with fervour for two hours while the teams took notes, with difficulty – the pace of his mind is hard to capture.
The morning session was followed by a tour of the FC Barcelona stadium and museum, along with an hour of Q & A at FC Barcelona’s offices. We met with the head of the Innovation Hub, a central point for FC Barcelona that co-ordinates research, data and knowledge on sports. We were given limited information and had to prioritise hundreds of questions into a handful. Luckily in Spain, wine is drunk over lunch, so we had clear heads to co-ordinate with our new ESADE friends.
Day two was game day. We ‘creatively audited’ FC Barcelona to understand where the organisation stood in terms of its creativity. We were then tasked to come up with revenue generating ideas for the Hub, while driving additional innovation. This process could be completed over weeks or months, but after our initial audit in the morning, we had 7 hours. We broke into groups and tackled the problem in two ways. We considered how the Hub processed ideas (potential creativity) and discussed what idea/s could generate funds in the short term. The consulting framework we finally presented, included a process flow that collects creative ideas not only internally at FC, but also externally from fans, supplier and other stakeholders. In terms of revenue, we recommended the use of what the Club already has: data on their players and fans. Player data could be transformed into saleable training plans, to companies like Nike that already sponsors FC Barcelona. Fan data could be leveraged to increase mobility into and out of the stadium. Revenue could be generated through partnerships with service providers like Uber, taxis and the city’s transportation department.
On the last day, all teams gathered for the final presentation in one of ESADE’s beautiful Business School campuses. Tensions were high after hours of presentation practice and little sleep. The competing teams from Copenhagen School of Business, Aalto, MIT and ESADE presented recommendations that were truly innovative, showing how different perspective play out even when similar frameworks are used. I am happy to say that although all ideas were great, team RE:creation, won. We worked extremely hard, had fun and pulled together as a team at every point. Go team!
The competition ended that night with celebrations across Barcelona, from drinks in traditional Catalan bars to late night tapas. All teams celebrated the gift that we had been given of learning, from great institutions like FC Barcelona and great minds like Ferran Adria. We saluted the two days that highlighted our differences and similarities, and enforced the importance of diversity in coming up with innovative solutions.
Team RE:creation is indebted to the people and organisations that gave us this experience. We’d like to especially thank our hosts at ESADE, and Said Business School, who allowed us this opportunity. And one last thought. If you’re considering entering a case competition, with Ferran Adria and FC Barcelona – or any other competition where you’re likely learn, grow and celebrate – my advice would be don’t hesitate. It could be one of the best weekends of your life.