Reflections on making an interinstitutional intensive course work

by network Coordinator Frederik Hasle, Cphbusiness

The Nordic Ideation network(NIN) represented a brand new way of carrying out an international collaboration for all network partners, and it proved to be an innovative way for students to acquire international competences.

Setting up such a collaboration is a unique challenge, and in this final post, I wish to share some key learnings based on the biggest challenges the network faced from the perspective of the network coordinator.

  1. Alignment of partners:

One of the biggest challenges and first ones to overcome is making sure the intensive course can actually be integrated into the curricula of every institution, and that it can be done so in an comparative manner, which ensures equal commitment of partners and students.

For example, the way the students are assessed (exam or otherwise) and the expected deliverables from the course influences the students participation, and the feeling of the students of being on equal grounds. Therefore, the network closely collaborated on defining not only the course, but also the assessment method of participating students.

The same is true for the amount of time dedicated to for each student to the course at each insitution. This can be tricky to match up, in the case of the NIN the IP was offered as an elective at one institution, while two others integrated it in other courses. For the students who had it as an elective, their entire time was assigned to the course for three weeks, but for other institutions, they had to find time for the course in a schedule that also included other courses over a longer period. It is very important to set expectation beforehand of the amount of time students can participate. The network struggled with this the first project year, until such an expectation setting was done, and a plan of the exact subject students should have in preparation was agreed on. Also, reserved timeslots were agreed on for student team work in advance during the pre-week before the camp.

Another aspect of aligning the partners is the actual involvement of teachers in the camps, where some different teaching styles had to negotiate how to help the students. Should it be more directing or should it be more coaching/process-oriented for example? The final form was one where the teachers swapped groups in order to expose them to different expertise and styles of teachers. It may not be possible to achieve a complete alignment, instead we decided to rotate teachers between groups to expose them to different expertise and guidance styles.

2. Facilitating the camp

The camp itself took place during the middle week out of the three weeks of the course, and it was the centerpiece of the network activities.

The most pressing challenge of the camp was time management and ensuring the student teams stayed on track. As the project developed we became better at instituting daily deliverables and to help students on track towards this goal. The camp was designed in a way that should allow for a progression in stages towards solving the cases posed by the commissioners. It became a crucial role of teachers to help the teams focus in on what they needed to produce to advance.

Here is an example of the plan from the 2nd camp in Copenhagen.

As it can be observed, clear expectations of what students would be doing were defined in timeslots. Unexpected problems will always occur, and therefore it is also important to have some “buffer” time, where students can catch up. Furthermore, the plan allowed for testing and revising the products. This was deemed critical in actually coming up with applicable solutions for the commissionaires, who were able to give feedback midway.

This leads us to the involvement of the commissionaires, who were providing the cases for the students. It proved very important to have a solid expectation setting with every case-holder, both in terms of their involvement during the camp and in terms of the solutions that students would provide for them. Since the course was an ideation camp, it was important to for commissionaires to understand that students were also encouraged to be innovative and come up with alternative strategies and solutions, which the company should be open to. It was also important to find some common themes for the case-holders, for example that they were interested in expanding their product, finding new customer groups etc. This was important, because students from other countries than the hosting one should be able to take advantage of the fact that they were from another country and give new perspectives on the product. If the product/service the case revolved around did not have some relatable features to students from different institutions, it would be very difficult for all students to contribute meaningfully.

3. Division of labour and sharing the workload

The intensive course rotated each year with a new partner taking on the role of hosts. The hosts had many responsibilities such as practical arrangements for accommodation, teaching facilities, meals and also with selecting and preparing commissionaries for each camp. It was very difficult to share these tasks, since it was natural for the hosts to make these preparations in their home country. We attempted to ease the work pressure on the hosts by having teachers from the other countries take care of more of the facilitation of the camp week, but this did not take the preparation duties off the hosts. Over the three years, this evened out, but on a yearly basis it was difficult to balance the division of labour. This is somewhat to be anticipated, but it is important to share the amount of time spent and have an equal expectation of the preparatory work. Furthermore, each institution should have administrative staff involved, who can help with practical arrangements and managing the budget.

There were many other smaller learning points as well, and it is impossible to list them all. Please feel free to contact the network if you are interested in tips about how to arrange an interinstitutional intensive course. We would be happy to share our experiences.

Students Impressions from the camps

By network coordinator- Frederik Hasle, Copenhagen Business Academy

Impressions from two excited but tired students from the 2018 camp

Students overall gave very positive feedback concerning their learning experience.

Here are a few quotes from students from the 2019 camp at Estonian Business School:

“I realized that I can’t just sit in little Denmark and expect to work only with Danes”.

“A big part of the learning is to figure out that different people have different ways of doing things.”

“Working across cultures and languages can be challenging due to differences, it is imporant to figure out where other people draw the line and culturally adapt.”

“It is important to emphatize with the customer when focusing on expanding to international markets.”

We were very pleased to note that the students highlight various aspects of their learning both related to the team work experience, the intercultural learnings, as well as academic concepts from design thinking (emphatizing).

Learning from the past, Building for the future- report and feedback of 2nd NIC Camp

By Külli Hansen, Estonian Business School, Tallinn

NIC-week in Lyngby

From November 11 to 16 the second Nordic Ideation Camp was held in Lyngby, Denmark. 20 students from Haaga Helia University of Applied Sciences Finland, 20 from Estonian Business School and 20 from Copenhagen Business Academy, Denmark had a possibility to practise both virtual and on-site international collaboration. Team-work is not easy when the team-memerbs come from different countries. However, our situation was truly challenging as among the participants from the three Nordic countries, there were also students with Vietnamise, Indian, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Russian etc nationality or origin, also the age of the participants was very different.

““Since we had very international team-2 girls from Estonia, 1 girl from Hungary, 1 girl from Vietnam, 1 guy from Finland and 1 guy from Denmark-our work was very interesting and we all had different understandings of things. In our case, it was only a good thing. We did not have any major misunderstandings and the fact that we all had so many different ideas due to our experience only richened the team work. ” -EBS Student

The students worked with the tasks from three local companies. One of the oldest ferry company in Europe DFDS expected students to think about the cruise passangers and to improve the services of their contact centre. They asked student teams to innovate the whole experience of connecting the company and getting the possible best service before, during and after the cruise.

The second company was a a local start-up Period, from CPH business incubator. The start-up aimed at offering online subscriptione-based sales to young women selling hygienic products with monthly subscriptions. How to make it work for the expected target groups and how to sell more, was the challenge for the students to find out.

The third company was Lungby Boldclub – a stadium and football club which has a large number of members and which also organises tournaments, but the club is not familiar enuogh among local community. The club is intersted in creating tight contacts with the community, build up their own loyal fanclub in order to generate bigger audiences to their events and improve their brand imago.

“I did  like  how  the  professors  from  each  university  were  going  around  and  helping  each  team throughout the week. That worked well and could be done maybe even more. This made sure the thought process and progress our team made was always moving forward. I  really  liked  the  fact  that  the  students  ended  up  being  from  way  more  than  just  3  different countries, which made the camp more interesting and effective as well, since it combined ideas from people from so many different cultural backgrounds.” -EBS Student

So, students were divided into teams and the challenge started. The teams had to think about the customer, draw empathy maps, think about problem statements and offer solutions. They built prototypes and tested them in the city with potential customers. Teachers pushed them to test more and do some testing at each step of the solution development process. The week passed quickly and Friday morning with the pitchings to the company representatives were just about to start, when I approached Tiit Elenurm from EBS and asked, what has been the biggest impression from the week so far.

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Here is what he answered „CPH campus at Lyngby is an excellent place to get together students from three countries. We are really happy to spend our days in the „White house“ of CPH where we have rooms just for our teams and use the space in the way we need. Students had to work intensively during the week to solve very different challenges of Danish companies. Some of them became a bit exhausted, because the days were really long and intensive. However, international teamwork assumes crossing the borderlines of comfort zones.“

The students also provided useful feedback and suggestions for the next camp:

“ […]We finished our work way faster than  the  teachers  were  expecting.  Only  time we  actually felt  like  the  time  was running out was Thursday, when we had to fix our presentations. It would have been better if the dress rehearsal was earlier that day, for example at 2 PM, then we could have  had  lots  of  time  to  fix  everything  and  leave  the  school  earlier.” -EBS student

All the teachers were very much satisfied with the results the students presented. The same was about the company representatives, who appreciated the big work done by the students and promised to put many of their ideas into use.

After all this intensive process of dress-rehersals, pitchings to companies and week-long competition, it was nice to announce, that the winners were… everybody!

For this year it was absolutely true. All the students made their input, the teams worked well without any serious problems and the companies were happy with the results.

 

Külli Hansen is a lecturer at the Department of Management at Estonian Business School in Tallinn, Estonia.

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Looking towards the next Camp in Denmark 2018

Post by Grith Kemnitz and Gitte Dyrhauge, Cphbusiness Lyngby, Denmark

The Camp in Porvoo in 2017 was successful as it was appreciated by students and involved a lot of learning for all parties. This post looks towards the next camp in Autuum 2018 and reflects on how we can do it even better through our learnings from Porvoo.

In general, we will not change the structure and outline of the Camp. We believe that we altogether made a good concept that creates learning for the students. Not so much academic learning – but learning on ideation processes and intercultural collaboration, which are important learning outcomes. The next camp will therefore also be of 3 weeks, including a pre-week, the actual Camp and a post-week for reflection and exams.

“The Nordic Ideation Camp and this elective has provided all I needed to expand my network both internationallyand locally at Cphbusiness Lyngby.” – Mia /Service Management, Cphbusiness

Here are some of the changes discussed in the Network, which we are working on for next time:

We will be more deliberate in adding Ideation to the learning objectives and preparing the students for working with these tools. We will therefore be working with a well-known concept of Ideation. This will enable students to prepare and work deliberately with the ideation phases already in the pre-week. The plan is to work with Design Thinking and have students do part of the “Emphasizing-phase” before meeting in Lyngby.

“We have learned a lot about the importance of investment in remote teams and how vital the early planning phases can be for the turnout of the project.” – Martina/Service Management & Mikkel / Multi MediaDesign, Cphbusiness

The Network is planning to form the student groups earlier. This will hopefully make the groups across boarders connect early; this way working during the pre-week can be effective. This also demands precise planning of schedules in the 3 Institutions so students have timeslots where they can be sure that everybody are available for digital communication.

“… our team sometimes struggled, however, we got valuable insights for further work, and we do believe that in the end we created a great and useful result for the commissioner” Mette /Marketing Management & Victor /Financial Controller

One of our great challenges will be to find commissionaires/companies that can live up to all the criterion we have set up after the last camp. It is quite important that they are available during the week and have a universal challenge that the students can relate to. We are already working hard on finding these 3-4 companies. One of the areas to stress is the very positive feedback students got from the companies in Finland – especially from the commissioner that had been most committed during the camp week.

Another area to change is making sure that the work-load will be more evenly distributed so the organizing Institution does not take on the entire work-load. The decision to work with a well-known Ideation concept will help in this matter as everybody can equally prepare the academic part, and thus support student in pre-week and during the camp. We have discussed having specific tasks each day – and as we plan more detailed this will be a focus area for us at Cphbusiness as host institution.

Through the experience from the first camp the Network has come to know each other better and also had the opportunity to see in practice how we each work with students. The aim to create a Camp that enables the students to learn through the experience of solving a real business challenge should therefore have even better chances this time. We are however, very different so planning- and pedagogical challenges will still occur and it’s important to keep an honest and close contact during the planning phase.

“Overall I had an amazing trip… I learned how to cooperate between different study programmes’ and cultures … and I learned how to speak English all the time.”
 – Louise /Markedsføringsøkonomi, Cphbusiness

We are greatly looking forward to hosting Nordic Ideation Camp 2018 at Cphbusiness, Lyngby.

 

Grith Kemnitz is a lecturer at the Service Management Programme and Gitte Grimm Dyrhauge is a senior lecturer at the Marketing Management Programme. Both come from the Lyngby campus of the School of applied sciences; Cphbusiness, which is based in Copenhagen.

 

One down, two to go

NIC camp

by Marika Alhonen & Kalle Räihä

The first Nordic Ideation Camp was arranged already a while ago on Porvoo Campus. Now that the project network (Copenhagen Business Academy, Estonia Business School and Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences) has started planning the second camp, we want to reflect back and bring out our insights from the first camp. The first observation would be that even if the planning phase took more than a year, in the end much of the practical arrangements were managed during the last weeks and days.

 

A big chunk of the actual work is left on the university hosting the camp, even with all the Danish, Estonian and Finnish partners giving an equal and sincere contribution to the planning. This definitely is one major development point for our network: how to share the workload more evenly between the partners? The answer to that probably has to do with the importance of building trust, finding common values and shared goals in the organizing team – as well as figuring out more efficient ways of working together online.

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All other practicalities aside, the most important reflection point would have to be the results. We had three partner companies with 3-4 teams attached to each of them. By the end of the camp it was obvious that the best results were created by teams, which were able to work closely together with the company. It also helped with creating solutions if the company had presented a clear and “universal” challenge for the students to solve. Now that we are planning the second camp in Lyngby, Denmark, the universal nature (as opposed to being related a very specific, geographically restricted customer target group, for instance) of the business problem has been brought up, since it should help making the research work during the “pre-week” more meaningful.

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Another contributing factor is finding the right type of companies to work with. Based on the experiences from this first camp we would say it’s better to work with a private company, which can independently make its own decisions, instead of a network, which can’t necessary implement any of the solutions created by the student teams, regardless of how feasible they might be. The size, or level of operation of the company is also a factor to consider when choosing the companies. Taking into account all the uncertainties related to very small startups (1-3 entrepreneurs) before they have launched their products or services to the market, it is not recommended including them as commissioner companies to camps like these. Yes, they may have interesting cases to offer and the needs are real, but the lack of resources and the fact that the company hasn’t really started their business operations yet removes all meaning out of the cooperation. And from a practical point of view it just doesn’t work, if you agree to work with someone, who pulls out from the project in the last minute, due to lack of resources.

 

The companies don’t have to be huge corporations, either. Often the case with them is that they already have a bunch of professionals working on their issues, so what a group of 20 students can create for them in a week isn’t necessarily as substantial as when dealing with SMEs, which don’t have all the resources in-house.

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Finally, one key issue is the cooperation between the teachers. We, the teachers, must reach a shared vision and agree on the philosophy of our coaching and guidance of the student teams in their work. The teacher team should learn to openly discuss topics related to what the role of a teacher is in a project like this and how to find the balance between micro-managing the students or leaving them to work in peace. It is important for an individual teacher to understand that it is about supporting the students’ work with useful means in the current situation, not so much about lecturing on our favourite topics.

 

We can, without loss of integrity, proclaim the first Nordic Ideation Camp a success. Especially considering it was the first attempt in a series of three, arranged by people previously unknown to each other, representing very different educational organizations. We strongly believe in evolution, so it will be interesting to see to what extent we can implement the learnings from the first camp at Haaga-Helia Porvoo Campus. One thing is sure: the Lyngby camp will be a fascinating experience for all involved partners.

 

The Nordic Ideation Camp is a series of three ideation camps organised each autumn by the

involved partner universities (Haaga-Helia, Estonia Business School and Copenhagen Busines Academy). The first camp was organised on Haaga-Helia Porvoo Campus 13-17.11.2017. The second camp takes place in the autumn 2018 i Lyngby, Copenhagen and the third in the autumn 2019 in Tallinn, Estonia. Each camp involves 20 students and 2 teachers from each partner university and lasts for three weeks. During the first and last weeks students work in virtual teams but are located in their home universities. The second week brings all participants together to work intensively on commissioned cases/projects. The Nordic Ideation Camps are financed by NordPlus.

 

Kalle Räihä and Marika Alhonen work as Senior Lecturers in The Degree Programme of International Sales and Marketing with Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences

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Ready for the first three-week course in the Nordic Ideation Network

Greetings and salutations from the Nordic Ideation Network.

After an exciting start-up project year with network meetings at all three partner institutions, we are looking very much forward to the first collaborative course between the partner institutions that will take place throughout three weeks in November 2017 from Monday 6th – Friday 24th. During the middle week the students will meet physicaly in Porvoo, Finland, where they will work with commissioners on real life business cases. During the first and last week the students will work in online, digital teams.

A great deal of work has gone into planning the three-week course across all institutions. Teams will be formed with 6 students from each institution for a total of 10 teams. During the three-week course the students will learn about working in digital an international teams, while coming up with ideas and solutions for the cases they are presented with. It is one the key purposes to raise students and companies awareness to the potentials to thinking about cooperation in the Nordic-Baltic region, which both students and companies will be able to apply in their careers and business projects

 

Best regards from the team behind the Nordic Ideation Network!

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