Blog: Challenge Programme module TU Delft & Politecnico di Milano

Leadership in a technology-driven world is about having new and inspiring ideas, designs, and visions. But it is also about getting these ideas implemented – and implementation is often far from easy. Leaders are more often than ever faced with uncertainties, making their ideas vulnerable to criticism. Also, because our world is extremely dynamic, meaning that a brilliant vision today may be obsolete tomorrow.

The first module was about leadership in our dynamic, networked world, with its many uncertainties.

Students and participants of the Challenge Programme module in Lecco, Aniek Kempeneers (Delft University of Technology) and Barbara Vigano (Politecnico di Milano), have blogged their day-to-day highlights in Lecco!


IDEA League Challenge Programme – Thursday

Having enjoyed a good breakfast with a croissant and a cappuccino, we headed to the main classroom where Monique Draijer and Margaret Welten (Delft University of Technology) welcomed us. After some warm-up activities, we focused on drawing up a Personal Development Portfolio (hereafter PDP) and the understanding of different personality types. Afterwards, we had to form groups of three to share and discuss the goals to be accomplished during the Challenge Programme. We spent our free afternoon discovering Lecco and wandering along the river of the lake. Some played a new card game taught by one of our colleagues. Another student was so attracted by the waters of the lake that he decided to go for a swim.

At sunset, we had some drinks all together in front of the lake enjoying our last moment of relaxation. To close off our day, we went to a welcoming restaurant where we ate pizza. How can you stay in Italy without eating pizza?

From the first moment, we always attempted to know all the people in the IDEA League Challenge Programme. We talked to and sat near people we did not know well yet instead of staying in closed groups. We started sharing this experience as a big family, inside and outside the class.


IDEA League Challenge Programme – Friday

Today we started with an introduction of the case that we were going to work on during the weekend in Lecco. Prof. Hans de Bruijn (Delft University of Technology) and Hugo Thomassen (Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management) introduced the case during a short lecture and presented the challenges that the ministry is facing. The main theme of this weekend was: “Dealing with conflicting frames in a multi-stakeholder context”.

After a short round of group work in which we tried to understand the problems and perspectives, Prof. Hans de Bruijn gave an interesting and very insightful lecture about dealing with conflicting stakeholder interests. In an interactive setting we learned about different kinds of strategies, based on different kinds of company powers, that are used to get stakeholders on board. After this lecture, all groups continued working on their analysis of the problem and the formulation of the strategy that we would have to propose on Sunday. Having enjoyed a great lunch, we kept on working in our groups.

At the end of the day, all students, faculty and staff members were invited to enjoy a dinner at one of Lecco’s finest restaurants. It was great to see that everyone was having so much fun and got to know each other better. Furthermore, it was a great opportunity to get to know the teaching staff as well in a more informal setting.


IDEA League Challenge Programme – Saturday

The next morning, we continued working on the assignment divided in our teams, asking our tutors for support if it was necessary. Filomena Canterino (Politecnico di Milano) gave a lecture on how to behave in a team and how to handle conflict. She showed us the different types of behavior that we could meet during teamwork and we took a short test in order to understand which type we would have. After a refreshing lunch, the two actors and trainers Catalijn Willemsen and Arjan Kindermans helped us improving our posture, gestures, breath and speech in order to enhance our performance for the pitch in the following day.

An interesting lesson linked to the topic was given by the professor Hans de Bruijn about Obama and Trump speeches. We highlighted the differences and learned about the repetitive techniques they were using and tried to include them in our pitch to become more engaging and inspiring.This was the most intense day during the four-day-programme because it was the one right before the presentations and results. We felt a lot of pressure, but in the end we were all satisfied by our work and how we managed to handle and finalize so much information during such a small period of time.


IDEA League Challenge Programme – Sunday

The BIG-Day of the weekend!

For most of us, the day did not start with breakfast. We were all eager to finalize our work before the poster presentations and pitches that were on the agenda today. Everyone started early to make sure that we would deliver valuable results; we even skipped the (much needed) coffee breaks!

Each group presented their problem statement, analysis and solution on a poster. Subsequently, one member of each group had to prepare an inspiring pitch about the case and the group’s solution. It was very impressive to see how much the pitchers improved in such a short amount of time. We all felt really proud of them for having the courage to stand in front of the crowd, knowing the pitch by heart and inspiring us with their stories.

After the poster presentations and pitches, it was time for the awards. Congratulations to “Antonio & Partners” for winning the Best Poster – award and Emanuel Sanne for the Best Pitch – award. Unfortunately, after the presentations the end of the weekend came really close. We enjoyed our last lunch at PolEATecnico and said our goodbyes before leaving the Lecco campus.

The group really got to know each other well in such a short amount of time. It amazed all of us how well our group work went and how inspired we were by the other driven and ambitious students. The scenery of the Lecco campus was great and its beauty gave a lot of energy during our workdays. For the non-Italian (and maybe Swiss) students,  being able to look outside and immediately see the mountains and the Como lake felt like magic.

On behalf of all the students, we would like to thank Politecnico di Milano and the IDEA League for hosting this amazing first extended weekend. Furthermore, we want to thank all the faculty and staff members for educating us on this important topic and Hugo Thomassen for providing the interesting and challenging case. We look forward to the next weekend at RWTH Aachen University!

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