Christian about the Think Tank Camp
Think Tank coach & creative force
Christian, would you mind briefly introducing yourself?
Christian: I work in maihiro’s Products Team and, in my role as product owner, I’m responsible for our maiTour and maiCatch products.
I joined the Think Tank two years ago, when the whole thing was first launched. I applied for the role at that time. This year I was there as a coach, supporting participants as they came up with ideas.
It’s an absolute joy for me to hone ideas and develop initial concepts without having to immediately consider concrete solutions on a technical level. The important thing is to go a little wild and think up a cool concept that will impress the customers.
In your own words, please explain the main idea behind Think Tank Camp.
Christian: With the Think Tank Camp in Mallorca, maihiro offers every employee – no matter which department they work in – the possibility to apply for the Think Tank Camp on the strength of the innovative ideas that occur to them in their everyday life, while working on a customer project, or during their day-to-day work.
The core Think Tank team screens a pool of candidates in advance to ensure that the submitted ideas are truly
good enough to develop further. A small group of lucky winners then flies to Mallorca for three days. On the island, these creative forces are then tasked with learning – or rather given the chance to learn – how they can transform their idea into a well-developed concept. This should then already be in good enough shape to be presented to customers.
This is actually another aspect of the main idea behind Think Tank – the fact that we demonstrate to participants that, while it’s nice to have a good idea, you also need to know what to do with it. How do I develop the idea further so that, ultimately, the result is a short concept that can be passed on to our colleagues in the sales department (or any of our colleagues) for them to bring to meetings with customers? The aim is thus to present the specific idea and learn what the customer thinks of it. Because it’s very important to obtain feedback from the market relatively quickly in order to be able to assess whether the idea truly has potential.
What do the participants do during the three days in Mallorca?
Christian: The group arrives in Mallorca on Friday. If they have good luck with the weather, they can enjoy the sunshine. At first, the event involves each participant presenting their idea so that all of them know about the others’ ideas. Next, there is a brief warm-up session, during which participants get comfortable with the first approaches, such as the Walt Disney method.
Christian: The next day, all the participants are tasked with creating a 10-minute pitch for their idea by the end of the day. The pitch needs to be as convincing as possible, of course, because each participant wants to be able to take their idea further.
This means that participants spend Saturday fine-tuning their ideas with each other using a variety of methodologies. During the afternoon there’s time to further flesh out the idea in peace and quiet. It can take the form of PowerPoint slides, a Prezi presentation, or a prototype – whatever the participants think of.
On Saturday evening there is a round of voting in which each participant receives three points, which they can award to the respective ideas. Ideally, by the end of the evening we have collected two or three ideas that stand out from the rest and move on to the next round. These ideas are then further developed once again in smaller teams on Sunday.
Christian: On the last day there is an introduction to rapid prototyping tools and, in particular, different forms of presentations. What’s more, the participants learn more about how and where they can find out whether there is any competition for their concept and what they need to keep in mind when dealing with an innovation.
To provide inspiration to the participants, we play certain videos at the beginning – for example, we’ve shown #FCBayernHackDays pitch videos. This is the presentation of the “Fan Coin” idea – a good model of how to turn one’s own idea into a persuasive presentation.
For the rest of the day, the teams continue to work on their ideas. Timo and I provide support as they do so. We make the rounds to see where people are struggling. Sometimes the teams need a little bit of help, or the idea might still need a bit of fine-tuning. In principle, though, the teams are already working quite independently and fleshing out their ideas to such an extent that it’s possible to truly imagine how they can be turned into reality. At the end, presentations are made, possibly along with prototypes or what are called “mock-up stories”, to explain the idea in detail.
The great thing about Think Tank is how it consists of an interdisciplinary team; in other words, we have people from the consulting department, sales team, or even from internal services. This results in a good mix. At this year’s Think Tank, for example, we had an idea that involved trade fairs. That meant that we could ask our colleagues in the sales department directly whether they were familiar with the problem in the first place and could thus confirm our hypothesis. This allowed the team to immediately continue working with confidence, because they knew that their idea would truly solve problems. This is definitely very helpful.
In the evening, there was another round of three pitches in what we call the “maihiro cave”. Here, each team had another fifteen minutes to present its idea. At the end of these sessions, Timo and I decide which idea shows the greatest potential, was presented best, and is therefore crowned the winner.
In general, all three ideas presented this year were brilliant, meaning that all of them have been continued to a certain extent and have therefore demonstrate a corresponding degree of potential. However, there should only be one winner, of course, in order to generate motivation amongst the participants. The Think Tank Camp therefore closes with the announcement of the winner, who then also receives a fitting prize.
Looking back, it sounds like you found the Think Tank Camp to be very successful.
Christian: Yes, it was. We had three outstanding ideas for which detailed presentations and prototypes were created. We can now pass these on to our colleagues in the sales department and learn whether the ideas are well received by customers.
In the best-case scenario, we can therefore soon take the next steps so that our colleagues can see their idea put into action.
Thank you for this interview about Think Tank Camp, Christian!