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Broad MBAs Tackle Innovative, Hands-On Learning through Extreme Green Case Competitions

By Kait Kisel, student writer

The 2018 Extreme Green IV winning team pose with their trophy and with Ken Szymusiak (second from right), managing director of the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
The 2018 Extreme Green IV winning team with Ken Szymusiak (second from right), managing director of the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Four times throughout the course of their program, Broad College of Business Full-Time MBA students participate in an immersive, experiential series of three-day workshops called Extreme Green.

Extreme Green helps students further develop important skills such as creative, innovative, and entrepreneurial thinking competencies. During each semester’s experience, students work with Fortune 500 companies to solve real-world, challenging business problems while creating new business models.

In semester one, MBA students’ first introduction to Extreme Green, the content centers on learning that “creativity can be a developed skill.” Over the course of three days, students participating in the workshop:

  • Worked with alumni of premier improv group Second City to learn improvisational skills that can be adapted to fast problem solving
  • Partnered with Wendy’s to create new gastronomic delights
  • Teamed up with Procter & Gamble to re-conceptualize retailing

During semester two’s Extreme Green, students focused on formal and creative problem solving. The three days consisted of:

  • Working with trainers from Disney who teach the Imagineers how to be creative
  • Developing a creative mindset and learning skill sets and toolsets for creative problem solving
  • Applying this learning to a real-world problem

Claire Battafarano (MBA ’19) notes, “I’ve never considered myself a very creative person and often feel intimidated when mandated to ‘be creative.’ During this round of Extreme Green, we learned creativity as a process, which sounds counter-intuitive, but it was empowering to learn ways to unlock and activate my creative ability.”

Extreme Green during semester three honed “innovation processes that work at major corporations.” During this whirlwind experience, participants:

  • Learned innovation tools from General Motors’ innovation leads
  • Imagined the future and the implications around where automotive and new technologies intersect
  • Convinced GM executives they have a profitable response to a macro-technological challenge

The final semester of Extreme Green held the focus of “learning to leverage the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment of disrupted industries.” This meant that students:

  • Applied their MBA learnings to succinctly and rapidly develop lean business plans
  • Developed realistic and feasible new business models for disrupted industries
  • Convinced a panel of venture capitalists that their models will profitably exploit change in the disrupted industry

“In [Extreme Green] IV, we were given the freedom to create a service from the ground up. Letting our ideas marinate over the course of three days led to constant tweaking, improvement, and additional research,” explained Joshua Palmer (MBA ’18), whose team won the session’s case competition. “EG IV was a culmination of everything we had experienced as part of the MBA curriculum. Completing this semester’s workshop was proof that over the last 21 months, we had all learned to look at business from a holistic perspective and can make decisions with all aspects of the company in mind,” Palmer said.


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