Catching up with BISCI: ambitious agenda to create digital and sustainable supply chain innovation

Set up by Maastricht University and the Province of Limburg in early 2019, the Brightlands Institute for Supply Chain Innovation (BISCI) drives state-of-the art digital and sustainable supply chain innovation, combining expertise from knowledge institutions, businesses and government. Our colleagues from the School of Business and Economics (SBE) caught up with BISCI’s business development director Ton Geurts and BISCI’s scientific director Bart Vos.

Among other things, they discussed how BISCI can contribute to a more sustainable world, the Maastricht Sustainability Institute (MSI) joining SBE and the first annual Supply Chain Innovation Conference in February.

Full interview

You can read the full interview with Ton and Bart here.

Resultaten onderzoek naar draagvlak tweetalig onderwijs bekend

Is er in Limburg draagvlak voor het aanbieden van Nederlands- én Duitstalig onderwijs op vmbo-niveau? Dat onderzocht UMIO’s Service Science Factory (SSF) eind 2019 in opdracht van Provincie Limburg. In december presenteerde het verantwoordelijke projectteam de onderzoeksresultaten. Wij spraken met projectleider Dominique Meyers van SSF.

“Duits is nog steeds een populair vak op middelbare scholen in Limburg, terwijl de populariteit in de rest van Nederland afneemt”, geeft Dominique Meyers aan. “De toevoeging van Duitstalig onderwijs binnen het vmbo kan op termijn zorgen voor een betere aansluiting van vraag en aanbod op de Euregionale arbeidsmarkt. Daarom heeft Provincie Limburg ons gevraagd om het draagvlak voor tweetalig onderwijs te onderzoeken.”

Belangrijkste resultaten

“We hebben het onderzoek holistisch aangepakt”, vervolgt Meyers. “Dit betekent dat we deskresearch hebben gecombineerd met uitvoerig kwalitatief en kwantitatief onderzoek. Daarnaast hebben we alle belangrijke stakeholders bij het onderzoek betrokken.”

In de onderzoeksresultaten wordt onderscheid gemaakt tussen de volgende stakeholders: leerlingen, ouders, scholen, grensinformatiepunten en belangenverenigingen van werkgevers.

Leerlingen

Uit het onderzoek blijkt dat bijna 50% van de bevraagde vmbo-leerlingen inziet dat tweetalig onderwijs kan leiden tot een betere baan. Wel denken ze dat de tweetalige studie hen 50% extra tijd gaat kosten. Daardoor is slechts 20% van de bevraagde leerlingen bereid om ook echt ervoor te kiezen.

Verder blijkt dat leerlingen in de hoge vmbo-stromen meer interesse hebben in tweetalig onderwijs en ook meer bereid zijn om in Duitsland te werken, terwijl juist de leerlingen in de lagere, technische stromen er meer baat bij kunnen hebben. Daarnaast blijken leerlingen met hoge cijfers voor Duits meer interesse te hebben in tweetalig onderwijs dan leerlingen met lage cijfers.

Ouders

Van de bevraagde ouders zou 50% hun kind inschrijven voor tweetalig onderwijs. Van die 50% zou 65% extra willen betalen hiervoor. 94% van de ouders gaf aan dat ze in staat zijn om hun kinderen te helpen met huiswerk of taken voor het vak Duits.

Scholen

Vertegenwoordigers van scholen in de regio geven aan te willen meewerken aan een internationale regio, maar tegelijkertijd veel uitdagingen te zien op dat vlak. Voorbeelden zijn de motivatie van leerlingen, de vereiste basiskennis van de Duitse taal bij leerlingen en financiële steun voor het opleiden en begeleiden van leerkrachten.

Grensinformatiepunten

Deze partijen geven aan dat onderwijs over de cultuurverschillen tussen beide landen cruciaal is bij tweetalig onderwijs. Zo moet aandacht worden besteed aan de hiërarchische structuur en formele omgangsvormen binnen Duitse organisaties.

Belangenverenigingen

De belangenverenigingen MKB Limburg en IHK Aachen zien aan beide kanten van de grens grote tekorten aan technisch geschoold personeel. Het aantal Nederlanders dat in Duitsland werkt, is relatief laag. Duitse bedrijven werven ook niet actief in Nederland, omdat de technische opleidingen in eigen land meer de diepte in gaan terwijl in Nederland de opleidingen breder zijn ingestoken en medewerkers zich on the job kunnen specialiseren.

Dominique Meyers, tweede van links, met de overige leden van het projectteam.

Aanbevelingen

“Op basis van deze resultaten hebben we een adviesrapport opgesteld voor de provincie”, aldus Meyers. “Zo adviseren we om meer bewustzijn te creëren bij alle stakeholders – maar vooral ouders en leerlingen – over de meerwaarde van tweetaligheid. Ook raden we aan om klein te beginnen; eerst additionele taallessen en daarna eventueel uitbreiden. Verder moet er bij de invoering van tweetalig onderwijs voor certificatie worden gezorgd. Hierdoor kunnen leerlingen achteraf met een certificaat of diploma aantonen wat ze hebben gepresteerd. Een laatste belangrijk punt is het activeren van Duitse bedrijven, bijvoorbeeld door stageplekken en bedrijfsbezoeken te regelen bij deze bedrijven. Zo wordt de Duitse arbeidsmarkt tastbaar voor de leerlingen.”

Het cluster Economie en Innovatie van Provincie Limburg is zeer tevreden over het eindresultaat. De onderzoeksresultaten en het adviesrapport vormen de basis voor overleg over de te nemen stappen in 2020.

UMind takes Problem Based Learning to the next level

Maastricht University is known for its Problem Based Learning (PBL), where students learn in small tutorial groups under the supervision of a tutor. In order to bring PBL to the next level and make use of digital innovations, the UM I-portfolio Board sponsors initiatives. Within the university BISS (Brightlands Institute for Smart Society), IDS (Institute for Data Science) and SSF (UMIO’s Service Science Factory) collaborated on the project UMind: a new digital tool to identify knowledge gaps with students and tutors during, before and after the tutorial sessions.

UMind provides students with a digital interface where they can create relational mind-maps to visualise the knowledge they have acquired. The data generated by making these mind-maps is analysed by a smart system and provides tutors as well as students with insights of what the entire tutorial group has learnt. Perhaps even more important, it also identifies knowledge gaps.

Great example of collaboration

This project is a great example of collaboration between various disciplines at Maastricht University. The project was initiated by BISS, as the institute operates at the cross-section of education, business, data science, artificial intelligence and philosophy. IDS analysed how to combine the mind-maps and delivered the technique in order to provide a valuable digital tool to the users.

SSF was approached by BISS to facilitate a design sprint to validate the project. In addition, SSF further developed the solution together with a small group of International Business students from Maastricht’s School of Business and Economics (SBE). Finally, students and teachers from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) were involved because the Political philosophy course, coordinated by one of the BISS PI’s, Darian Meacham, was chosen as a pilot course to test this new tool. The next step is to run another pilot to further validate and develop the solution.

Contact us

Are you interested in working on the edge of research and society connected to digitalisation, validating your research or collecting societal challenges? Please contact BISS at BISS-secretariat@maastrichtuniversity.nl. You can find more information about BISS on www.biss-institute.com.

If you want to know how SSF can help you improve your existing services or develop new service concepts, please contact us at info@umio.nl.

Video

Peter Sampers appointed as member of NWO’s audit committee

As of 1 January 2020, Prof. Dr. Peter Sampers RA has been appointed as external member of the audit committee at the Dutch Research Council (NWO). Sampers is professor at the Accounting and Information Management Department of the School of Business and Economics (SBE) and has been involved in UMIO’s iEMFC programme since 2002.

Peter Sampers

NWO funds scientific research at public research institutions in the Netherlands, especially universities, and covers all scientific disciplines and fields of research. It has earned the status of a public-interest entity and is therefore subject to stricter and more independent oversight. SBE and the Accounting and Information Management Department are very pleased to have a department member who is entrusted with such a significant position.

UMIO brings Design Thinking to Cape Town

In November, UMIO’s Carmen Vonken and Dominique Meyers taught an elective course about Design Thinking and Innovation at the University of Stellenbosch Business School. We spoke to them about their experiences in South Africa. 

Design Thinking is a method for solving problems or developing new products and services in a practical and creative way. “It is a user-centered discipline that is very practical and pragmatic”, Carmen Vonken explains.

During the Elective Week of the Executive MBA programme at University of Stellenbosch Business School, the students had to go through a so-called design sprint. Carmen: “This is a process in which you work from a challenge to a solution within a fixed time frame. The students worked in groups on a fictional case that they could fill in themselves. The starting point had to be a challenge for a company near the university, for example a shop or a restaurant. Part of the design sprint is the development of a customer journey. This is the path a consumer follows before, during and after purchasing a certain product or service. Many students indicated in advance that this was nothing new, that they already knew everything about customer journeys. However, immediately after the session they discovered that they had never worked out a real customer journey and that much more is possible than they knew from the books. That was an eye opener for them.”

How it started

Every three years, UMIO welcomes Executive MBA students from the University of Stellenbosch Business School for a European Management Residency. The residency is part of a fruitful and ongoing partnership between Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics and University of Stellenbosch Business School. For the July 2018 residency, the content of the programme was adjusted; the focus was shifted from EU Business Themes to Design Thinking and Innovation.

The week in Maastricht turned out to be a great success with many positive reactions from students. “During the residency, professor Marlize Terblanche-Smit concluded that her business school was in structural need of more depth in the field of Design Thinking”, says Dominique Meyers. “I then suggested devoting an elective to this topic for the Elective Week of their Executive MBA programme. At the end of 2018, we received a request to prepare a proposal for the Elective Week of 2019. The continuation of the elective depended on the interest of the students. Ultimately, no fewer than 26 students chose our elective, which meant that Carmen and I could travel to Cape Town in November.”

A great success

The elective about Design Thinking and Innovation was a great success, with both trainers receiving many positive reactions from the students. Dominique: “It was a bit exciting in advance, since it was the first time that we taught this elective abroad. In addition, we were warned that South African students usually first see which way the wind blows. That also appeared to be the case during the first day; many students were enthusiastic but also critical. On the second day, they came loose. We had apparently shown that we knew what we were talking about. The atmosphere became more relaxed and we laughed a lot. The students asked many questions, they were also constantly busy with the question: what does this mean for my business? That was very inspiring to see.”

“What the students really appreciated is that we, as teachers, have a good command of the knowledge and the material because we implement it within the business community through our projects”, says Carmen. “This allows us to quote many examples of what we have experienced ourselves and what we hear from companies. They also appreciated the interactivity of the elective. They found it useful to be able to apply the theory to their own case. That was a nice change from the theoretical methods that they normally deal with within the MBA programme.”

Next year

In principle, the elective was a one-off assignment, but given the positive reactions from the students and professor Terblanche-Smit, Carmen and Dominique expect that they will also be able to submit a proposal for the 2020 Elective Week. “The official feedback has yet to come in”, says Dominique. “With bad evaluations we would no longer receive an invitation, but the feedback in class was very positive so we do not expect that at all.”

Successful Breakfast Booster event on Empathy in Business

Could empathy be the key for business to unlock competitive advantage, or does it compromise efficiency and performance? This was the central question during UMIO’s Break Booster on Friday 13 December. In this workshop, Dr. Lukas Figge explored the most important questions concerning empathy in an interactive and experiential way.

Empathy has two levels. The first one is about relating to the feelings and emotions that another person is experiencing. The second one, which is often forgotten, is the ability to identify and fulfil another person’s needs and thereby contribute to his or her well-being.

Empathy is a hot topic in business nowadays. Just google it and you will find many articles highlighting the benefits of empathy for innovation, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, organisational learning and financial performance. However, apply it with care. Empathy can also have opposite effects if it comes at the expense of addressing sensitive issues that are crucial to delivering results.

Sketching a theoretical framework

About 30 professionals attended the Breakfast Booster with Lukas Figge at UMIO Café in Maastricht. Lukas is lecturer in Strategy & Entrepreneurship at Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics and works as innovator and trainer at UMIO.

After a delicious breakfast, Lukas started by explaining that empathy at best has an instrumental function in Milton Friedman’s liberal worldview: use it when it increases profits. This is in contrast to the stakeholder model, in which empathy itself has more intrinsic value. He then sketched a framework, including the work of Brene Brown on courageous leadership and the work of Marshal Rosenberg on non-violent communication. This immediately made the playing field clear to the participants.

Are we doing the right things?

The basic assumption of the framework is that every person on this planet is experiencing feelings right now. Those feelings are caused by the fulfillment or non-fulfillment of universal and life-enriching needs. As an exercise, participants then had to identify and share their own feelings and needs of the moment.

This was followed by a group assignment. In groups of five, they explored and discussed benefits and downsides of empathy. The term effectiveness came out remarkably often in the results, for most groups as an advantage of empathy and for some groups as a disadvantage. Apparently, empathy has a lot of influence on effectiveness and therefore on the question ‘Are we doing the right things?’.

Unlocking collaborative advantage

At the end of the session, Lukas explained that studies show that empathic care can jeopardise personal gains and benefits in competitive contexts where value capture is more important than value creation. However, it has major benefits for value creation and unlocking the collaborative advantage in organisations through the stimulation of connection, motivation and well-being.

Interesting and educational

This Breakfast Booster turned out to be an interesting and educational workshop with a group of enthusiastic professionals who were really working with each other and with Lukas. Everyone went home (or to work) happy and satisfied, because the workshop met the following needs of the participants: stimulation, collaboration, community, joy, presence, inspiration, discovery and learning.

How will technological innovations affect the job market over the next few years?

UMIO’s high-quality learning trajectories are fuelled by research carried out at Maastricht University, in particular at the School of Business and Economics (SBE). Since the beginning of this year, three researchers connected to SBE have lead a large European research project called Technequality. In a recent report, the Technequality Consortium offers eight possible future scenarios describing how the recent wave of technological innovations will affect the job market in Europe over the next few years.

Reskilling and adapting

In almost all scenarios, jobs are heavily impacted. Under the assumption that innovations would primarily have a labour-saving effect, there is a high chance that unemployment will rise. In such scenarios, reskilling the labour force and adapting our education systems is essential.

More information

You can find the full report on the Technequality website.

Duurzame inzetbaarheid? Practice what you preach!

Breng in de praktijk wat je verkondigt, of simpeler gezegd: doe wat je zegt. Dat doet UMIO ook op het gebied van de duurzame inzetbaarheid van zijn medewerkers. We helpen niet alleen professionals en organisaties op dit vlak, maar we geven ook ruimte aan de ontwikkeling en vitaliteit van onze eigen medewerkers. En dat werpt zijn vruchten af, want het zorgt voor meer plezier in het werk, een hogere productiviteit en een wendbare organisatie.

Silvie, Ingrid, Marion, Dominique en Daria zijn betrokken bij de ontwikkeling, advisering en uitvoering van de open cursussen en delen graag wat duurzame inzetbaarheid voor hén betekent.

Silvie Vonk:

“Afgelopen jaar ben ik bezig geweest met het ontwikkelen van het programma Mastering Sustainable Employability, voor werkgevers. Dat zette mij aan het denken. Ben ik na 15 jaar op dezelfde plek zélf nog wel duurzaam inzetbaar? Deze vraag leidde mij naar een loopbaancoach van het Staff Career Center. Ik kwam tot de conclusie dat ik nog heel ‘employable’ ben. Ik groei nog steeds in mijn functie en kan telkens andere rollen vervullen. De opdracht die ik aan mezelf geef, is dat ik mezelf wil blijven uitvinden in verschillende rollen, waarbij ik mijn grenzen steeds iets wil verleggen. Dat is voor mij duurzame inzetbaarheid!”

Ingrid Voncken:

“Dit jaar mocht ik in het kader van een leiderschapstraining feedback ontvangen van mijn team en collega’s. Het feedbackrapport bevestigde deels wat ik al wist. Maar ik werd ook in positieve zin verrast met inzichten over mijn kracht, die ik zelf niet zo zag. Er kwamen ook een aantal ontwikkelpunten uit voort. Het is niet altijd gemakkelijk en het vraagt om zelfdiscipline om ermee aan de slag te gaan en te blijven, maar ik maak er nu wel bewust tijd voor. Alleen dan blijf ik verder groeien en kan ik een waardevolle bijdrage blijven leveren aan UMIO en onze maatschappij. Het is een mooi proces dat ik iedereen kan aanraden. Gun jezelf de tijd om stil te staan bij waar je goed in bent en waarin je nog kunt groeien.”

Marion Hameleers:

“Duurzame inzetbaarheid heeft voor mij te maken met een constante ontwikkeling van jezelf in je werk, maar ook als persoon. Afgelopen jaar heb ik een cursus zoekmachinemarketing gevolgd, die me geholpen heeft de marketing voor de open cursussen van UMIO verder te optimaliseren. Heel fijn en belangrijk dat we die ruimte ook krijgen. Persoonlijk heb ik dit jaar het meeste geleerd van mijn reis naar India. Deze compleet andere cultuur heeft me weer bewust gemaakt van een aantal zaken. Ik oordeel minder snel, ben wat geduldiger en kan beter relativeren. Eigenschappen die ik zowel in mijn privésituatie als in mijn werk weer goed kan inzetten. Ik gun iedereen zo’n mooie ‘reis’ in zijn of haar ontwikkeling.”


Dominique Meyers:

“Ik vind het belangrijk dat ik mezelf continu blijf uitdagen en ontwikkelen op professioneel gebied. Ik ben een speler die op veel posities kan spelen, wat mij erg veel energie en plezier in mijn job geeft. Ik denk dat dit voor mij duurzame inzetbaarheid belichaamt. Gelukkig krijg ik binnen UMIO ook die vrijheid en word ik ook aangemoedigd om me te blijven ontwikkelen. Zo heb ik afgelopen jaar de cursus Verandermanagement mogen volgen en ben ik van start gegaan met een coachingopleiding, om me als coach en programmamanager verder te ontwikkelen.”

Daria DoetsDaria Doets:

“Als programmacoördinator binnen de open cursussen en maatwerkprogramma’s van UMIO ben ik voortdurend in contact met deelnemers en docenten. De feedback die ik van hen ontvang, is de spiegel voor mijn eigen ontwikkeling. Wie ben ik en wat zijn mijn krachten en valkuilen? Jezelf uitdagen en verdiepen zit niet alleen in theorie en kennis, maar met name in de interactie met anderen!”

Wil jij net als de medewerkers van UMIO werk maken van je duurzame inzetbaarheid, je continu blijven ontwikkelen en je waarde op de arbeidsmarkt vergroten? Neem dan contact met ons op. We kijken vervolgens samen welk programma het beste aansluit bij jouw ontwikkelbehoefte.

New publication by Tim Hilken, Dominik Mahr and colleagues about Social AR

Tim Hilken (SBE), Dominik Mahr (SBE/UMIO) and colleagues published a paper titled ‘Seeing eye to eye: social augmented reality and shared decision making in the marketplace’ in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science.

In the paper, they study ‘Social Augmented Reality (AR)’ – a new marketing technology that firms can use to offer customers a more social online shopping experience. With social AR, customers can for example share a common view of a living space and jointly enhance this space with virtual 3D product holograms (e.g., different wall colours or furniture pieces).

They show that when optimally configured with the right sharing and communication formats, social AR empowers customers in exchanging product recommendations. As a result, customers become more comfortable with giving advice to others, and more likely to use the advice of others in their purchase decisions.

Read the full paper.

Erasmus+ Grant for developing executive study module on Service Design Thinking

Implementing Service Design Thinking at the highest level of organisations; that is the goal of the study module that the Department of Marketing & Supply Chain Management (SBE) and the Service Science Factory (UMIO) will co-develop. A consortium that also consists of Tallinn University, Stockholm School of Economics and design consultancy firm Brand Manual received an Erasmus+ Grant to realise this study module. On behalf of SBE and UMIO, Prof. Dr. Dominik Mahr and Damien Nunes are involved in the initiative. They explain what the project entails.

“As a consortium, we have submitted a proposal aimed at developing an executive study programme in the field of Service Design”, says Damien Nunes, who is (Strategic) Service Designer and Innovation trainer at UMIO’s Service Science Factory (SSF).

“In short, Service Design means developing new services or improving existing services using creative design tools. As a methodology, Service Design always starts with a customer-centric approach: who belongs to the target group, what needs do they have and how can we serve them better? Recognisable examples of Service Design results are the self-scanner at Albert Heijn supermarkets and the digital way of ordering that is standard nowadays at McDonalds.”

Creating awareness at a higher level

As Service Design is new to many organisations, they often do not know where to start. In addition, design disciplines are generally not represented in the highest layers of an organisation, while customer experiences do affect the entire organisation.

Nunes: “Therefore, we must create awareness at a higher level. That is why we are going to develop this study module for executives. It will be a programme at a strategic level, where you must be able to manage and inspire. Executives who will complete the programme, understand how to implement service design projects, what is needed for that and how they can inspire other teams to get started. They also know how to ensure necessary funding at the highest level. This will be a unique programme with a lot of depth; it will not just be another masterclass.”

Representatives of the consortium during the kickoff of the project in Tallinn. Maker of the selfie is Dominik Mahr, Damien Nunes is standing behind him.

Strong academic base with practical experience

Tallinn University is the initiator of the project and the main applicant for the grant. They decided to contact Prof. Dr. Dominik Mahr, because of his expertise in Service Innovation and Design at the Department of Marketing & Supply Chain Management of Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics (SBE). This department is a worldwide authority in the field of Services. Stockholm School of Economics (the branch in Riga, Latvia) and design consultancy firm Brand Manual also joined the consortium.

“It is a nice combination of a strong academic base with the more practical experience of the Service Science Factory (SSF) and Brand Manual”, says Mahr, who is also Scientific Director of SSF. “Our department is top notch when it comes to service innovation, but that is not enough. We need to find out how it ties in with the actual problems that organisations have when it comes to Service Design. SSF helps us in making the course operational.”

“Although Tallinn University contacted our department, we would not be able to optimally participate without SSF, which is part of who we are”, Mahr continues. “With the combination of research, education and practice, we have a unique triangle at Maastricht University of which I am extremely proud. Ten years ago, we wondered: if we know so much about services, how can we bring that out to the world? That is how the idea of SSF came up. Ten years later, our department and SSF work closely together on innovative forms of knowledge creation and dissemination. People and the inspiration to develop new activities are the connectors. I am happy that it worked out like this, because SSF is shining brighter than ever.”

Programme

The programme of the Service Design Study Module consists of six educational weeks that are spread over a period of six months. Each university organises two separate educational weeks, which means all participants travel to Maastricht, Tallinn and Riga twice. As part of the grant, each country will recruit six participating organisations, half of which must come from the public sector and the other half from the private sector. This creates a great mix for learning.

“We very much believe in the combination of learning with head, heart and hands”, explains Nunes. “This means that we will not only teach the necessary theory; we also let the participants experience the relevance of (Strategic) Service Design emotionally. In addition, we let them work on different personal and generic cases in which they apply their new learnings in practice. Their personal case work will already be the first organisational change that we hope to achieve through this executive course. That is why it is very important that we have a full buy-in from senior management to invest in this customer-centric transformation that is fueled by Service Design.”

Maastricht University’s contribution

In October this year, Mahr and Nunes were present at the kickoff of the project in Tallinn. Together with the other initiators within the consortium, they discussed the content of the study module. Maastricht University is responsible for week 3 and week 4 of the programme, in which the topics Strategic Service Design and the Future of Digital Services will be covered.

“For the two educational weeks in Maastricht we are responsible for the entire cycle”, says Mahr. “We will develop and teach the content on the two subjects. However, as we are a main content contributor to the project, we will also advise our partners on the other subjects. Furthermore, we try to bring in the more innovative, leading edge pieces by involving other colleagues from Maastricht University.”

Digital teaching platform

In addition to the study module, the consortium will also develop a digital platform. “We think it is important to create a free platform where people can teach themselves about Service Design”, says Mahr. “This platform will present all the teaching materials from the study module. As the participants will work on actual cases during the module and will apply them directly into their work practice, it is also our plan to add these cases to the platform. It will be very interesting to see how the different ideas and projects work out in the end. Did it turn out to be a success story or was it a failure? It is very useful to have many of these cases on the platform to see what works and what doesn’t. That will be a valuable output of this programme as well.”


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