On two Saturdays in mid-June 2015, the EMBA and MBA classes each separately conducted a fast-track strategy workshop with a founder of the start-up Twister Lighting. The lively exchange between the realities of bringing an innovative lamp to the market and the application of strategy tools and concepts resulted in implementable strategic initiatives and enthusiastic participants.
It was a meeting of two organisations with outstanding pedigrees. On the one side, BSL, No. 3 business school in Switzerland, represented by astute students possessing a tremendous range of international managerial experience in a wide variety of businesses and industries. On the other side, Twister Lighting, winner in February 2015 of the Award for “Solutions 2015” in the category of lighting at the Ambiente fair in Frankfurt, Europe’s largest exhibition for consumer products (www.twister-lighting.com). The USP of the Twister lamps is that they can be installed as ceiling or wall lights in less than one minute without a screwdriver.
However, around that intriguing innovation, which struck a chord with all present, are dozens of issues ranging from ERP software and supply chain design to key messages of the brand and the selection of retail partners. Dirk Stieger, Co-Founder of Twister Lighting, led the group through the decisions and activities to date, where the first products are being shipped to retailers in central Europe. His plans to add a B2B product line as well as options for further product innovations were also presented and thoroughly discussed.
Then it was the turn of the students in the course “Strategic Thinking for General Managers”, led by Professor Benjamin Wall. This case of Blue Ocean innovation was analysed by applying the battery of strategic tools and concepts currently used in business. Within one half-day a full-blown strategy package was defined, including SWOT, TOWS matrix, mission, vision, values, growth strategy, business model and corporate strategy. Topics such as crowdfunding, complementary products, sustainability, trust, first-mover advantages, multi-channel marketing including online sales as well as moving the product upmarket were identified in both workshops. The MBA class pointed to weaknesses and several alternative solutions in the supply chain, The EMBA class sketched building up relations to new kinds of business partners.
At the close of the win-win event everyone was very pleased to see that the structured interaction of practice and theory is exceedingly fruitful.