Shanghai workshop: how to cultivate an innovative approach

MSc in Sports Industry Management students recently attended a valuable workshop which taught them how to be more innovative. The students participated in the workshop during their time at emlyon business school‘s Asian campus in Shanghai. Over three days the students discussed and planned how a Chinese start-up could use the sports industry as an angle to launch their brand and their product (a juicer) into new markets.

The workshop was run by François Rousseau and Chum Wong. François has worked in three tiers of innovation; prospective, consumer-centred, and entrepreneurship. These different experiences allow him to look at innovation from different perspectives. He is now based in China and works as an Innovation Strategist at Design Overlay. Chum has considerable experience in both consumer-centered and tech-oriented innovation from leading edge agencies in the UK and China, where he now works as a Creative Consultant. Their combined expertise and contacts made for an informative and successful workshop.

 

What did the workshop entail?

The purpose of the workshop, called Design Thinking, was to reinforce the importance of innovative thinking and to introduce the students to a methodology to help them be more innovative. François and Chum shared their experiences and knowledge and introduced the students to a Chinese startup, called Juisír. Juisír raises funds through Kickstarter and Indigogo, and so far has reached €12 million in investment, making it a solid project and a great workshop subject for the students.

After being introduced to the context and methodology on Day 1, the students spent Day 2 defining strategic innovation areas and then participating in several rounds of idea generation. In total, 240 ideas were generated in one day. Day 3 was pitch day where they presented their best ideas to the founders.

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Why are the students studying innovation?

Innovation is vital at all levels of a business, whether it’s in recruitment, finance, the supply chain, marketing or elsewhere. Innovation is often seen as an inherent talent: something that only certain people can do. However, with the right practice and the right methodology, anyone can be creative. Today, in all aspects of business, it’s essential to know how to come up with a methodology and to use the right tools to create something new. Without innovation at every step, businesses in the sports industry won’t be able to compete in such a competitive market.

As well as focusing on innovation in general, the students learned about innovation within the context of China, where the process of innovation is more fluid and less structured than in Europe & the US. The students discussed different innovation processes and learned innovation techniques adapted to startups and to the Chinese market.

 

Being innovative in the sports industry

While the sports industry wasn’t the focus of the workshop, it was an interesting application for the startup involved. By focusing on a non sports-related startup, it allowed the students to approach the concept of innovation from a new angle and showed the students how to create opportunities in the sport industry for a company that isn’t selling a sports-related product. As the sports industry becomes more intertwined with consumer lifestyle, this application becomes more important. It shows the students that they need to stay open minded – not only about the industry, but about consumers themselves.workshop2

 

What the students learned from the workshop

In order to see – and create – opportunities for the startup, both in the context of cracking a new market and within the context of the sports industry, the students had to think creatively about an unfamiliar product, and change their innovation process as required.

François and Chum pushed the students to make things simple, visual and with impact. Among the fantastic presentations were experiential pop-up stores in yoga studios to showcase the product, and events in parks and public spaces where consumers make their own juices.

The key take-away? Trust the process, feed your creativity with consumer insights and question everything, innovation & creativity is not a talent but a practice.

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