Asking students to reinvent their business school #DreamingAudencia

dreaming audencia banner

Audencia School of Management, located in Nantes, in Brittany, is one of France’s leading business schools. Today, the school is launching a very original event, inviting its students to co-create the business school of tomorrow. Called Dreaming Audencia (“Design Thinking and Collective Intelligence” it says on the facebook page), the 2-day event is meant to put the school’s students at the driving seat to reinvent their business school. I thought it was an interesting initiative, that’s why I share it in this blog post (I’ll also try to write a follow-up post once it will be over).

Through an innovative methodology base on design thinking based principles, students will be invited to co-create the future of their business school

This morning, Audencia students will arrive at school like any other Monday. They have classes and a course schedule… but these are fake, and have been set up by Nicolas Minvielle, Associate Professor and Director of the “Marketing Design and Creation,”  and his students. In the last days, there has been a teasing campaign on the web, at the school and even in public transportation in Nantes, but no one knew what to expect. Today, Nicolas and his students will launch Dreaming Audencia, the 2-day event meant to take students by surprise and get them involved in the co-creation of their business school.

The objective of this project is simple and ambitious: “to get inspired by students, their dreams and ambitions,” Nicolas and his students explain. “Based on a design thinking approach, we will put the school’s first year students at the driving seat with only one instruction: to dream.” Today, these 420 students will be supervised by expert facilitators, who have been recruited for this event, and brainstorm around the future of their business school, with topics like co-creation and digital education.

Tomorrow, the teams will elaborate further on their concepts and come up with concrete concepts and creative productions. They will present their ideas and, at the end of the day, a selection of students, professors and partners will select the five best concepts. “The school’s management will be committed to these winning concepts, and promises to take them into consideration for the future development plans of the business school,” Nicolas Minvielle and his students explain in the press release.

Frank Vidal, Director of AUdencia Group, participated in the teasing campaign

Frank Vidal, Director of Audencia Group, participated in the teasing campaign

I am curious to see what students will come up with! A past idea contest in Germany did generate mixed results, with weird ideas like paid holidays, sleeping boxes or flirt websites suggested by students (Sluggish students, don’t you have any other ideas?, article in German). But this event is different because it takes place on the school’s campus and has been very well-prepared by Nicolas Minvielle, who is also an experienced design and innovation consultant, and his students.

I think it’s a great initiative to involve students in the design of their business school and education. Audencia is one of France’s elite business schools, one that requires students to go through 2 or more years of preparatory classes to even get into it. Once you have passed the tough exams successfully, after these 2 or more years of stressfull courses, some students tend to live their business school education as “consumers” rater than “actors” of your their own future.

If you are one of the academic elite who can get a place, then a glittering future awaits (Peter Walker, CNN)

France’s secondary education system is increasingly criticized, mostly because there is a high barrier to entry (not only the prep classes, but also the high tuition fees) into elite schools. As Peter Walker says on his CNN article (linked above), those who manage to enter one of the “Grandes Ecoles” can almost comfortably lay back until graduation, and pick up a well-paid manager job in France or abroad. A school’s alumni network and reputation will do the job, that’s how it works in France, more than anywhere else. (I’m being a little provocative, I know)

A "Dreaming Audencia" teasing poster in Nantes tramway

A “Dreaming Audencia” teasing poster in Nantes tramway

Some students might also be disappointed by “what they get” at business school after the tough years at prep school, which can lead to disengagement among students. I remember that my brother, who earned a masters degree in a business school after 3 years at university, was a little disappointed by the level of some these B-school courses. I told him that the value of a B-school degree in France comes more from the diploma and the network rather than the actual teaching (not that everything is useless… but you have got to be an actor yourself too).

So, in these conditions, how do you get students involved and interested again? How do you differenciate your institution to attract, in the long term, the brightest and most creative minds? One possibility is to organize such a spectacular event and to sollicit students’ creativity to co-create the future of their school and education. With Dreaming Audencia, Audencia School of Management is launching an interesting experience to reinvent the business school. I’ll keep you posted.

One Comment

  1. Excellent description of the process Audencia is following to let its students reinvent the School of the future. I may just had that we are having a blast doing so!


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