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Volleyball players or managers?

Volleyball : 40 étudiants ont testé un nouveau type de cours de marketing
Published on
26 March 2020

Last January, 40 students from the Grande Ecole Program at Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM) tested a new type of marketing module.... in their tracksuits, in a fire station gymnasium. The goal of this offbeat experiment: to learn how to link customer satisfaction to the quality of a marketing team's working conditions.

Educational experimentation is a hallmark of GEM. It has shaped the foundations of the GEM Learning Model. A new course integrated in this model, "Volleyball Expedition", is now being tested by Ulysses Track students. If conclusive, it will be applied on a larger scale to other programs of the School.

"The goal of this marketing course, like no other, is to help students explore and understand customer experience optimization, through a managerial approach. They feel the urge to take good care of their clients (customer experience) when management teams take good care of them (employee experience) and vice versa. They are therefore trained to reconcile the quality of work expected to the quality of working conditions, by applying a management approach," explains Karim Benameur, Professor at GEM and co-designer of "Volleyball Expedition" with Mathieu Heller, consultant-coach and executive at Global Kiwi.

If the client were a volleyball…

After an initial warm-up, the future managers are given different roles: players, ball-boys and statisticians.

  • The 'game' begins with balls thrown every two seconds. Participants must follow strict rules (the ball can be hit up to three times maximum on each side of the net, etc.) to hit the target. This is almost impossible!
  • During debriefing, a grid analysis is applied to working conditions. Statisticians give the objective results of the exercise. Everyone shares impressions, problems and possible improvements based on their respective point of view.
  • Students are told about the real meaning behind each role: balls represent clients, teams on the court are the front and back offices, teams off the court are the customer-acquisition teams, and statisticians represent management controllers. The sequence of tasks represents a customer itinerary. The only relevant sequence is the one in which the customer enjoys an unparallel experience offered by employees that believe they are working in good conditions. After the debriefing, the "players" set out again for another round .... with much better results this time. Through movement, experimentation with different scenarios, and role-playing, students tested, improved, and offered solutions, experiencing a life-size managerial situation.

The Ulysses Track 

The Ulysses Track is specific to 1st Year Grande Ecole Program students at Grenoble Ecole de Management. The format offers students the opportunity to test new learning processes in which experiential training and co-construction are central. Teaching staff can then determine whether or not the pre-tested training can be applied on a larger scale to the other programs and educational tracks of the institution.

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