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.



Where dreams meet reality

My name is Joyce Tsuchiya, from Brazil. I’m an ophthalmologist by training and I practiced for six years as a cataract surgeon and cornea specialist before deciding to pursue a career change. I come to IMD for a new challenge, big emotions and self development.

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-14 at 20.20.32 photo taken by my colleague Rodrigo Freire


Dreams are where we all started, high expectations and lots of hope. We arrived at IMD’s campus all keen on meeting each other, learning and eager for the new experiences to come. We had been listening for quite a while on how IMD’s program is comprehensive, and how it approaches business education from a holistic perspective. We heard about the experienced professors from whom we were going to learn and all the important people we would get to meet. But then, our dreams met reality, and we got hit head front by the first week of IMD’s insane schedule. By the 4th day I was already sleep deprived and started to question my sanity when I decided to pursue such program. It was a hectic, exhausting and an emotional week, and IMD was not about to let it end without a grand finale.

For the 5th day of our journey, we had two off-campus visits on our program, we were supposed to go to Genéve in order to visit EPFL’s (École Politechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) campus biotech and the CERN (read Martina’s post about that part of the visit here). Campus biotech is one of those places science folks dream about. – It is home to the Wyss Center and the Blue Brain Project.

The Blue Brain project is a brain mapping effort, its goal is to create a biologically detailed digital reconstruction of the rodent brain. But you could also call it ‘the perfect marriage between business and research’. BBP develops cutting edge research supported by a professional operation. The project management office controls and facilitates initiatives, in a methodology based on agile and waterfall. Every project must have a science lead, an engineering lead and a project manager.

In such environment, the most audacious ideas flourish. For instance, the e-dura, a flexible implant that can be used for many things, among them bridging a damaged spinal cord and the brain through a computerized interface, therefore restoring walking capability  to paralyzed patients. Or the neurohabilitation treatment that helps stroke patients recover movements. And a project very close to my heart, a retina implant based on tiny photovoltaic cells (20.000 of them!) that restore eyesight to blind people.

EPFL campus biotech is where dreams meet reality, where science meets business. A place where research is professionally managed and organized so that scientists get to build on each other’s work and all of this allows researchers to deliver actionable knowledge and give back to society. Thank you IMD, for taking us there and for showing us how business can be a powerful transformative force.

– Joyce