News at Smith

Lego Innovators Shine at Smith School Business Summit

Oct 31, 2016
Experiential / Reality-based Learning


Participants did more with less at the fifth annual Smith School Business Summit, a signature event from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business on Oct. 28, 2016, in Washington, D.C.

As a brain warm-up, Smith School professor Oliver Schlake challenged participants to build miniature sculptures using five standard Lego pieces. The activity, a variation of a classroom exercise developed by Schlake for his creative problem solving course, fit with the conference theme of innovation in a VUCA world. The acronym stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous — descriptions of the 21st century global economy.

The rules for the Lego activity were simple. Participants didn’t need to use all of their pieces, and they could combine their sculptures with backgrounds and other objects. Finished creations were titled, photographed and collected on Twitter @SmithBrainTrust.

“It’s a mental challenge,” Schlake says. “It conditions people to learn by doing — as opposed to absorbing — and being creative and innovative in the process.”

More than 100 sculptures were submitted, and winners in six categories received Lego kits as prizes. To see the judge’s choices, visit Smith Brain Trust on Storify. To see every submission, visit Smith Brain Trust on Twitter and scroll through the tweets dated Oct. 28.

The Smith School Business Summit, organized by the Office of Career Services, alternates between locations in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The 2016 event at the Omni Shoreham Hotel near the National Zoo featured a keynote address from David Williams, CEO of Merkle, a customer relationship-marketing agency.

Smith School faculty and staff members Jonathan Aberman, Anil K. Gupta, Jeff McKinney, Wendy W. Moe, Clifford Rossi and Schlake led panel discussions. Premier-level sponsors included Aldi, NewDay USA and Northrop Grumman. Super Terrapin-level sponsors included AT&T and Pepsi.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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