Everything around us is designed by man. It is thus possible take any object, a bag for example and enhance it through innovation.

There are processes and work methods to favour innovation and creativity in a group and according to our innovation professor David Robertson, the best way to learn them is to actually go through them.

Hence, the IMD MBA innovation challenge: build an innovative bag out of Tyvek paper, duct tape, staples and velcro for 36 executives following a 10-week intensive programme here at IMD (called the PED programme). They would vote for their favourite bag following our presentations.

The idea of a competition was quite exciting. We covered up our study group’s glass door to keep our concepts and prototypes secret and then started the innovation process.

The first step was to meet our target audience and understand their lives during the programme. This part was a great opportunity for networking. Then we wrote our mission statement, customer needs, and came up with innovation concepts to satisfy these needs.

I worked with my sub team on the marketing part.

It is not enough to innovate on the product functionalities, innovation spans all parts of the chain.

We decided to play on emotions, to try to come up with a presentation that the executives could relate to: busy successful executives, in their forties, who left their countries and families to join an intensive business programme and then return home enriched by their new learnings and experiences.

The day before the presentation, we stayed late working on the bag and the clip. At 5 o’clock in the morning we went to try out the clip in the auditorium and rehearse the presentation.

I felt very confident.

Next day, the competition was tough, but by the end of the day, when the result was announced, we had won. The bag had the highest score on innovation and the clip went right to the PED’s heart.

Congratulations to my team !

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