An Inspiring Intensive - Innovation from the Inside from Yale Tsai CITY

  • Wang Xinyun, IMBA Class of 2022
  • 2021-03-22

After the struggling spring & summer and the longest work-from-home days in my entire life due to the world-wide pandemic, it was an exciting start of my full-time MBA program in September 2020 at Renmin Business School (RMBS). What has made things even more colorful was that I was chosen to participate in Yale SOM Tsai CITY Intensive: Innovation from the Inside from the GNAM.  I am really pleased to walk you through the meaningful experience here.

The Intensive

The Intensive was a 6-week introduction about the framework and mindset of being innovative within a certain organization with limited resources. This kind of activities are also called Intrapreneurship. I have never encountered this word before, but now I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. The Intensive was led by Matt Hooper, a VP of Open Innovation at the Barclays Investment Bank. A bunch of other amazing guest speakers were also invited in the sessions. The Intensive was participated by mainly Yale students and about 12 students from selected business schools, about 70 in total.

As an architect and project manager with some intrapreneurship experience from previous work life, I applied for it with no hesitation.  I was sure that the Intensive could give me clearer view of pushing innovative actions within an organized entity and strengthen my already existed creative power. The later sessions proved me right.

The application

As some of my peer classmates might be interested to apply for the Intensive, I would like to share some tips here.  Other than basic info, there were questions about your previous innovating experience and how you think the Intensive could help you in your later career. Better think about them carefully.  There was also an interesting question about your innovating ideas about what new business are in need in the global pandemic background as a student.

When attending to the Intensive, we were told that all the participants chosen have push changes or new projects in their own organizations. It is amazing that I could connect with these creative thinkers with practical experience all over the world through the project.

The Sessions

As you can see in the image above, Zoom meetings are used to conduct the Intensive due to obvious reasons. The colorful background refers to students from different continents, which is a great idea to give the students a warm and apart-yet-connected video.

What impressed me most is the creative multi-media tool they have used to make the sessions interactive, even we were already used to online classes. There were many polls about the topic every session using an interesting website. We could even type in our questions to let all the other peers to vote to ask the guest speakers. At the 5th session, the polls had gone crazy: The intensive team used an everybody-can-join website letting all the students move their profile photo around to do real-time vote in a funny and more visual way. As you can see in the image below, lots of cursors are on the screen, which were from all over the world. It made you think, when the environment turns bad, there are always new ideas and tools emerging to sooth the condition and, most of the time, to make things better.

The topics of the sessions are quite diversified, from cooperate culture, facing difficulties to the changes under the covid-19 background. We were also asked to do a little project and provided the chance to present it to the guest C-suite. The background of the guest speakers was very interesting too, from Siemens, even to TIME. We heard insightful sharing of innovations from all types of industries. It appears being creative is becoming essential in every aspect of business world, no matter in manufacturing, education, investing, Internet companies or media, especially when there’s a pandemic situation.

Although being innovative is important, it is still very difficult to put your ideas into action inside a cooperate entity. The budget and human resources are limited, there are too many known and unknown factors could be affecting. More importantly, there are leaders you have to convince and other departments you have to collaborate, and there are bound to be people that feel fine with current situations and don’t want to change. That’s when the thinking models kick in. Using the models provided by the Intensive, we formed in teams and complete our cases. It helped us get a trail run in innovating efficiently.  Also, it was an honor to e-meet the C-suite level “judge team”. They reminded us to keep thinking about how new ideas inside a organization should be implemented “company oriented”and in a practical way.

In summary, the Intensive “Innovation from the Inside” from Tsai CITY, Yale SOM was an amazing and fruitful ride. I was very lucky to be chosen to participate. The sharing method, the topics we have discussed were inspiring. Meeting all the creative thinkers were exciting. I am grateful the chance provided by Yale Tsai CITY and Renmin Business School and I’m definitely looking forward to more activities like this, to open my eyes and think deeper about the world. Also, don’t forget to be innovative