Saturday, October 11th, early in the morning. Today I’m attending the Trends Vlerick Business Academy. Business Academy is an initiative of Trends & Vlerick Business School, who joined forces to organize a one-day training focused on entrepreneurship.
I arrive at the venue, the luxury Dolce Hotel in Brussels, and join the other early birds in the coffee lounge. This year’s Business Academy offers 3 training tracks:
- Track 1. Entrepreneurship training aimed towards professionals who already started their own business or who have an idea and want to develop a concrete business proposal.
- Track 2. Intrapreneurship training aimed towards professionals who want to launch an idea within the company and want to promote and feed an entrepreneurial culture within their business.
- Track 3. Trends & Strategies training aimed towards professionals who want to be on top of new trends and fully informed about the latest developments in management.
As an aspiring product manager, I decide to participate in the intrapreneurship track. As the other 250 participants gradually arrive, I can’t wait to start feeding my mind with new thinking, new ideas and inspiration.
Are you a game changer?
“Are you a game changer?” asks professor Marc Buelens. “A game changer is a person or organization that exploits opportunities for growth, outside its core business with a radically different business and management model.” says Marc. After a series of inspiring examples of game changing companies, Marc shares that in our fast changing world, we need renewal and game changing behavior, not change for the sake of change. “Renewal has always been the foundation for long-term economic success. But only game changers can come to those simple ideas.” says Marc.
Marc’s presentation is packed with principles and examples of game changing behavior. In the end I’m absorbed by my inner drive to become a game changer. This was the motivation I needed to start the day off right. I’m excited.
Aligning the business model.
Professor Veroniek Collewaert takes the lead in our second session on internal and external alignment of all building blocks of a company’s business model. After an in depth explanation of Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Generation, Veroniek shares insights on how changes in a business model can affect the complete organization. A very interesting discussion is sparked about how smart changes in the business model can make your competitive advantage and value proposition significantly more difficult to copy by competitors.
In a world where the lifespan of business is decreasing, rapid change and business model innovation is mandatory for a company’s survival. Veroniek concludes her session by sharing ways to redesign a business model by applying lean methodology and design thinking principles.
In the next session professor Katleen De Stobbeleir talks about the development of an entrepreneurial and creative climate inside a company. By focusing on imagination, observation, attitude, collaboration & diversity, Katleen points out a way for companies to nurture creativity in an organization and support people develop ideas that drive the business forward.
“If you ask customers what they require, they’ll think inside their boxes.”, “Run your business by ideas, not by hierarchy.” and “Support your creative geniuses, don’t push them out.” are some quotes that stick. Definitely a fascinating session that changed my perspective on the ways my organization is trying to be innovative.
Doing it the start-up way.
Professor Miguel Meuleman talks about how launching new products in an uncertain market place is a search, not an execution problem that needs to be solved. Managing uncertainty is becoming a necessity and can be done by acting more like a start-up. A major part of the session is dedicated towards experimentation and developing a culture of learning where failure is accepted.
The key question is, can my big multinational company really create the mind-set and processes to return to the start-up mode?
Lessons from the field.
Bart de Waele, CEO at Wijs, shares how he leads his organization driven by an entrepreneurial spirit. The cornerstone of his company is a culture of transparency, communication and sharing. “Create a working environment that promotes communication and co-creation.” and “Facilitate creativity and continuous innovation, don’t try to control it.” are his key takeaways.
Tom Aelbrecht, Director Venture & Incubation Center at Janssen/J&J talks about business incubation and venture acceleration. Tom talks about how top management needs to support and help people in the organization foster an entrepreneurial mindset and develop ideas. “Engaging people and making them passionate to deliver results requires executive sponsorship and organizational support systems.” is his core message.
From the outside in
The last training of today is lead by professor Marion Debruyne. Marion talks about how to survive today’s markets by practicing ‘customer innovation’: combining extreme customer focus with innovative strength. Using the metaphor of looking through three different lenses, Marion explains how to connect with the customers of today and prepare tomorrow’s growth strategy.
After a session filled with tons of information and valuable insights, Marion concludes: “Dream your worst nightmare. Then invest in it.” True, the best way to predict the future, is to participate in it.
When I receive my training certificate and goodie-bag, I conclude the Business Academy met my expectations. I’m inspired and motivated to translate my new knowledge into the real context of my organization. Not only did I learn a lot, Trends Vlerick Business Academy was also a tremendous opportunity for networking. I’m glad I got to know several interesting and inspiring professionals from diverse industries.
Late in the evening. Satisfied and with a mind saturated with new insights, I’m driving back home.