C is for Crazy... oh, I mean Coaches. :)
As in the past years, this time the teams are supported by our experienced Innovation Coaches, members of the Austrian Patent Office and by our wonderful coordinator, Mario.
Stefan, Julia and Christina are innovation consultants at Integrated Consulting Group and Roland is the leader of a small but powerful innovation team at Philips, so I dare say innovation runs in their veins.
But wait... what exactly are they doing as Innovation Coaches? Let's hear from the Coaches themselves!
'To challenge my team to come up with really cool solutions and at the same time keep the atmosphere going and keep their spirit up. Help the team work out their conflicts and to protect the team from team members who want to break free of all the rules but not to destroy the team dynamics.'
'I think my main job is to entertain the team and make it fun for them.'
'Sometimes it's like being a kindergarten teacher - sometimes they fell that they don't know what to do, I feel it's more like just being there for them so they don't feel lost. During these times I usually give them an idea of what I would do, but then I let them go their own way so they can feel it was their decision to go that way. It's basically just pieces of inspiration.'
'To bring the teams safely through the 24 hours and at the same time help them to create good and innovative results.'
As to what is their biggest challenges, they answered as follows:
'To keep my team going even if the actual topic is more around improving the business model, while they were waiting for a product development challenge.'
'Not to bring too much of my ideas to such a team. I always have a clear picture how I would do it and the more I explain it, the more I press them in that direction. For me the biggest challenge is to know when to stop so they can choose their own way. It's like teaching a child to walk - when you see that they are able to walk without you, you can let go of their hands.'
'At this pint my biggest challenge is not to fall asleep. :)'
'It depends from year to year. It is always the combination of the task, the team and sponsors to get all those things together which help the teams create really useful and valuable new ideas.'
Of course besides boosting the teams' energy level, they also support them by giving recommendations on the methodology, suggesting which templates to use when and keeping the main structure of the innovation process. Usually they are also the ones who inspire the teams to go for field experiments and get some first-hand customer experience regarding their challenge.
Besides the Coaches the students also have support regarding the technical questions.
Is there any patents already in the field in connection with their designed solutions? Can the concept be patented? Are there any restrictions regarding the ideas at hand?
As in the previous years, members of the Austrian Patent office are also on-board with the teams! They are here during the challenge to answer any patent related questions or requests.
Aaaand here is our professional problem-solver and wonderful project leader of the event, Mario from TU Graz. If you see him, let your worries go, he will go the extra mile to clear any obstacle from the way! And he is not only coordinating the TU Austria Innovation Marathon but he is also taking care of the alignment between the universities, the companies and the teams before and after the event.
What a line-up of supporters! Keep up teams, you only have 6 hours to go, and with these experts we are sure you can do it! :)