Crowdsourcing a business school’s strategic direction.
In December 2012, 50 students in Audencia’s general master’s program and its specialized master’s program in marketing, design, and creation wondered what would happen if Audencia’s students could determine the business school’s next strategic steps? They collaborated with the school’s board of directors to design “Dreaming Audencia,” a social campaign and crowdsourcing project to bring their plan to life.
In mid-March 2013, the group carried out a “teaser” campaign about Dreaming Audencia via social networking sites, on city buses and trams, and across the school campus. They held the culminating event on March 18, when 420 first-year master’s students came to school expecting to attend class as usual. Instead, they were asked to attend a two-day klatch in a meeting space—complete with inflatable chairs, markers, idea boards, and pads of Post-its—where they would co-create the school’s future direction using design thinking techniques.
Students were asked to express dreams relating to one of five strategic themes. These included a school that was co-created by students; had digital genes; produced leaders, not “cogs in the system”; offered an educational experience, not just training; and encouraged lifelong participation. Next, the students formed 15 teams of 28 students each; three teams were assigned to each theme. The school also presented the sixth theme—“a school that operated without frontiers”—to students over the Internet.
By the end of the first day, students had pinpointed 180 dreams and identified 60 as having the most promise. The students then narrowed the list down to 15 favorites.
On the second day, students fine-tuned the 15 dreams, creating five-minute presentations that were streamed online to approximately 1,500 students and alumni around the world. Faculty, staff, and corporate stakeholders voted to choose the six winning dreams.
The initiative inspired a significant uptick in the school’s social media traffic. In the days after the campaign began, the project’s Facebook page had 300,000 views and 1,000 fans. The school saw 40 percent more traffic to its website. There were 31,562 views of the project’s dedicated site, 500 followers of the Dreaming Audencia Twitter feed, and 3,000 tweets that included the #DreamingAudencia hashtag.
The winning ideas, one for each category, included:
- A meeting place where students can network and collaborate with students from other schools.
- A digital interface that integrates the school’s proprietary virtual campus platform with Blackboard, Evencia, and Facebook.
- A student-run company, advised by business professionals. A student-created and -run business competition called “Audencia Race.”
- A mentoring system that would help guide students through financing their studies and even allow them to delay payment of fees when necessary. A campus on another continent.
MAKING DREAMS REALITIES
The school now has formed steering committees of students, faculty, and administrators to make plans to achieve each dream. Says Andrew Taylor of the school’s communications department, “Dreaming Audencia allowed students to have a direct influence on their school’s future.”