Wednesday, February 2, 2011

NYU Stern and Mercedes Benz Case co-opetition

I wanted to participate in a case competition before I graduated from Kellogg, so last Thursday to Sunday, I participated in the NYU Stern Mercedes Benz case co-opetition. What's a co-opetition, you say? Oh its competition + cooperation, in the sense that rather than competition as a team from your school, you compete in mixed teams with students from different schools. I had a team of five people; one from Kellogg (me), NYU Stern, Chicago Booth, Cornell Johnson and a Mercedes Benz employee.

The competition was an awesome experience for me, for several reasons:

1. Forming mixed teams instead of teams from schools was an awesome idea; I got to meet and work with some great people. Working with this team was great; we were able to take several ideas and mold them into a cohesive story. I was proud of our output.

2. The problem we were tasked with was not a theoretical case that we needed to analyze; its a real, near-term issue that Mercedes Benz is faced with. I am confident that several suggestions that teams suggested would be incorporated in some way or another in the near term.

3. The organizers took care of all food and accommodations; and we were very well fed throughout the competition :)

4. We got to test drive a Mercedes Benz car!

5. Another big part of the competition was our faculty advisor, Professor Luke Williams from NYU Stern. Luke is a Professor of Design and Innovation at NYU and a fellow at FROG Design. He gave us sound advise on how to think about the problem, how to structure our presentation so as to easily communicate our ideas to the judges, and how to be innovative. We also got signed copies of his book Disrupt, which I have started reading (and seems to be pretty interesting so far). As an example of an innovation, Luke talked about how you can combine disparate ideas to come up with something new. The video below shows this: it is a combination of a voiceover by Eddie Izzard and a video made using LEGO blocks.

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