The Final day- Idea | Prototype | Pitch

Featured image: Team Misfits (Georg, Oriane, Muhammad Atif, Joyce, Rafa, Mohamed Jerad and I)

Innovation week was one of the unique elements that had attracted me to IMD last year. Building a prototype and bringing small innovations to healthcare is a very exciting idea on paper. What actually transpired was something so much more impactful. I will count this as one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in the program so far. Of course, the way the week was structured, the gravity of the challenge and the competitiveness in the MBA group were all essential elements for meaningful impact. But what actually made this week so special was the team that I was working with. Theoretically, diverse teams lie on either extremes of the bell curve in terms of outcome. Luckily for us, we were on the right side of the curve and by the end of week had converted a viable solution into one of the best prototypes in the challenge.

We started the week on a high note by winning the Innovation video challenge. Our prize was to be filmed by dedicated camera crew for the entire week. This easy win brought the team together well and we also welcomed two new team mates- Georg from ecal and Mohamed Jerad from EPFL. We spent the early part of the week gathering information from the field and tapping into as many sources of ideas as possible. And then we began a rather efficient process of elimination and aggregation ending up with one narrow problem in the healthcare universe to concentrate upon.


Stage 2 was all about prototypes. We again did some efficient brainstorming on various mechanisms to build a device that can help the elderly stand up. Some of the ideas were out of the ordinary and some were straight up DIY level. Considering the time constraints involved in building such a product, we chose the simplest mechanism of all, a combination of a spring mechanism and inflation by air to build a cushion that could support the elderly to sit and standup.

Stage 3 was the pitch. We went for an emotional pitch to state the problem that we had intended to solve. Not surprisingly, almost all of the teams went for the same structure in their pitches. There were some brilliant ideas and brilliant prototypes all around and it was impressive to see what the class of 90 could bring to the table in one week of madness. In the end my team was satisfied with our clarity of storytelling and the strength of our product.


There have been some major learnings from the week. Especially as to how teams need to function to deliver innovation. The obvious ingredient for success is the diversity in a team. We were able to throw up different ideas and solutions only because of the diversity of thinking that we had in the room. The other ingredient that we were fortunate to have in the team was a sense of shared leadership. Everyone led in various dimensions either pushing ad campaigns or finishing the prototype or pitching the product or building the deck or creating defining videos. We had an extremely enjoyable experience and thanks to IMD, Cyril Bouquet and Peter Vogel for creating this fantastic one week experience. This taught us more than we could ever have gained from classroom lectures.

Until next time….

lego_parthMy very own personalized lego: souvenirs from the innovation week


Day 5 – Innovation Challenge

The entrepreneurial rollercoaster is on, and we start to enjoy the ride. It is day five in the IMD Innovation Challenge and our master coach made it clear that we are passing through the informed optimism phase, an excellent place to be. This week has been a constant spin of ups and downs, it started with the great excitement of an idea, it passed from the hard crisis of a reality check, to when we critically readdressed our project towards a new and unexpected dimension. Continue reading “Day 5 – Innovation Challenge”

Day 3 – Ideate: be wild, weird, absurd!

Peter Vogel, Professor of Family Business and Entrepreneurship
Debiopharm Chair of Family Philanthropy

On the first two days of the challenge, my colleagues and I had met new team mates, explored the healthcare scenario in Lausanne and finally found a problem we wanted to solve. So, day three took us to ideation stage. In a single day we had to come up with a solution for a problem we were passionate about, for Team Misfits (us!) that was helping elderly people to have more autonomy and move more freely. And if the two first days were all blue skies, making friends and exploring, day three is where things go crazy.

Even though we had known each other for a few months, the time constraint of this project put a lot of pressure on the team. And we also needed to onboard our new team mates Georg Foster, a designer from écal and Mohamed Jerad, our very own physicist from EPFL. As IMD’ers we were already used to the idea of pushing the team, giving loads of feedback and working like hell. But how were they gonna see it? How can we achieve the goal of the week and still be sensitive to their needs and motivations?

During our day we were all trying to come up with as many possible solutions as possible, no matter how absurd they were, the idea is to stimulate creativity, and avoid idea killing. Judging is forbidden! Expressions like “yes, but” and “that doesn’t make sense” are banned… So we had the funniest, weirdest mobility solutions: like the suction grip,  the spring cane and the booty hammock, my personal favorite, just because I like the name.

Building a solution for a problem is a messy process, you bring a bunch of smart people together and ask them to come up with absurd, weird and out of the box ideas. And maybe out of all or of a combination of some them you may end up with a good solution. The problem is, this process requires letting go of the fear of looking stupid, of the fear of failing, of the fear of being wrong. And when you finally find that sparkling, elegant life changing idea you discover either one of two things: someone did it before or it has some major flaws and it is not life changing after all.

I learned that innovation requires a good deal of resilience because at this point I was frustrated, tired and I started to question myself. Is this the right solution? Is this a good model? Does this problem even matter? So what you do is you gather some courage and a lot of humility and you ask for help and guidance (thank you Eric, for coming to our rescue!).

Truth is, coming up with innovation is messy, crazy and sometimes frustrating. And that’s how it is supposed to be, ideas need to collide before they can build upon each other. People need to fail in order to learn and succeed…
Well at least that’s what we are told by Cyril Bouquet and Peter Vogel, our professors for this madness challenge.



Day 2: Connect, explore & nail down!

On a second exploration day of our innovation week adventure, we were “deployed in the field”. In our teams we split to look for innovations across the entire value chain of the healthcare system. We consulted professors, nurses, researchers, medical doctors, specialists, and owners of testing laboratories. We visited an array of different sites in the Lausanne healthcare ecosystem: the main Lausanne hospital CHUV, specialty lab Unilabs, biomedical research workplace CLE – Centre Laboratoire d’Epalinges, firefighters and Brain Mind Institute of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL). Continue reading “Day 2: Connect, explore & nail down!”