The first phase: Understanding
In this phase of the marathon, the students are familiarizing themselves with the companies and their businesses. Who is this company I am dealing with? Which context do they work in? Who are their customers and their competitors? And most importantly: What is the task they have chosen for us to solve?
Before generating ideas and solutions for a task, it is crucial to understand the task completely. The company representatives talk to the students and answer all questions that may arise. Then, the student teams have time to analyze the problem themselves.
Maybe they start out by thinking that they will generate solutions for kitchen appliances, when actually a new business model solution would be of a much greater benefit. Or maybe they have a different picture of which stakeholders the companies are working with.
They are given exactly 3 hours to discuss all this, before the company representatives come back to clearify. Let's hope that their analysis was right!