by: Yann Gourvennec

Yesterday, 12th of December 2007 was a great day in my recent career as a lecturer in marketing and innovation which started last April with the 360° analysis of the marketing of ICT products and services (click here to access the files). Indeed, I was invited by Pr Manuel Sosa to pitch on the subject of joint innovation at Orange business services, in order to present our activities in front of the students of the executive MBA of INSEAD.

This is one of the world’s leading eMBAs, number 9 to be precise according to the FT eMBA 2007 ranking (click here to display the eMba FT 2007 World ranking). I was most impressed with the school. What I saw there was really amazing in terms of facilities, campus, quality of teaching, and above all interaction with the students. The good thing with executive MBAs is that you’re not really teaching to students, but rather exchanging ideas with your peers. All the students are professionals and executives in some of the world’s most prestigious firms, and they come from all four corners of the world.

My pitch started with a little quiz, asking participants to name a few innovative companies in their eyes. Naming them was not enough, they also had to tell me why they were deemed innovative, and also whether this ‘innovativeness’ was sustainable. This little exercise was far less innocuous than it seemed. By asking this simple question, we very quickly, in less than one hour, put our fingers on all the questions surrounding the difficulty to define, nurture, and deploy sustainable innovation in and outside the enterprise.

This exchange was extremely fruitful, because all of the participants had already thought about these problems, and they could easily relate to most of them. The rest of the presentation was more standard, and consisted of a capability statement of what Orange business services is able to do in terms of joint innovation with its clients, mainly in the large projects business unit, to which I belong. I gave examples of what in my eyes, and in the eyes of our clients, innovation means when it comes to large projects and outsourcing. I was also able to show the audience my innovation wiki repository, and interesting and passionate discussions were triggered around the genesis and definition of wiki webs, the perspectives that collaboration is making possible in the enterprise, and the expected results. I was able to reuse some of my examples and materials which are developed either at Paris University (click here) or the Paris graduate school of management (click here). 

The presentation lasted four hours, and we were also able to exchange quite a few business cards in the process. In the evening, I was invited at a special cocktail party, where INSEAD alumni and current students were present, and were welcoming prospective students who had come to the school in order to investigate with regard to the executive MBA. This exchange was very exciting, very open and very pleasant, and it gave us an opportunity to exchange on business, on the course, on our lives and experience. To sum it up in a few words, I really liked everything about the school. The people and the recruitment process is just outstanding. People from all over the world where there, and the quality of our exchanges was absolutely dazzling. I am looking forward to another session at INSEAD soon, probably next year.

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