As a proud member of Herman Miller’s Certified Dealer Network, MarxModa strives to provide not only great furniture but also research-based performance solutions, empowering companies to materialize their vision and achieve their mission.
The eastern Michigan-based firm is committed to consistent, high-quality, expert service to help its clients create the spaces they need to achieve and sustain their business goals. They operate in the commercial, education, health care and government sectors, offering furniture, technology, interior construction and more.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the workplace — and as the workforce continues to demand hybrid and remote work options — the need for ergonomic home-office furniture is growing. To further the company’s growth and identify opportunities in this space, MarxModa partnered with Michigan State University’s Broad College Full-Time MBA program for the 2022 Extreme Green Corporate Innovation event on March 2–4.
Extreme Green is an exclusive 12-day experience taught in three-day blocks on four occasions over the course of the 21-month MBA academic path. Students work in teams using design thinking tools to propose solutions to business problems, supported by available evidence. They then pitch these ideas to corporate leaders at the end of each three-day “sprint.” The course series has been a pivotal part of the program since 2013.
“Extreme Green is a course series that teaches design thinking and applies it in several business environments, increasing in complexity each time,” Full-Time MBA program director Wayne Hutchison said. “This final course is the capstone for the Extreme Green experience, where we ask students to apply all they have learned in the previous courses by showcasing their skills while being embedded in a live-company challenge. This type of transformative learning experience gives all our students the chance to problem-solve with real stakes.”
This year, second-year MBA students gained insights through deep dives into the MarxModa business model, stakeholder analyses, revenue and resource streams and other company data sources, all while engaging with the company’s leadership. Teams worked to refine and develop their business ideas over 36 hours before pitching to MarxModa executives and competing for fellowships.
The teams envisioned solutions to create a healthier and happier workforce with a focus on ergonomic home-office furniture. The winning team presented an opportunity for MarxModa to focus on delivering benefits for the workforce that’s working from home: employee wellness and increased productivity. They pitched a system that would allow for home-office customization based on customer preferences, design, feasibility and pricing constraints.
“The MarxModa team spent countless hours over the past few months giving us insight into who they are as a company and the challenges they see in their businesses,” Hutchison said. “They then provided our students the opportunity to intimately work with pieces of their leadership team, providing suggestions to enhance their business. That advice has real-world stakes.”
Former faculty member Shana Redd (B.A. Communications ’07, MBA ’11, Ph.D. Marketing ’21) has helped run the event each year, applying her own experience as an alumna of the MBA program and former brand manager at Whirlpool. Her involvement continued this year, where she was able to witness the special character of the Class of 2022.
“It’s an honor to work with these MBA students. The Class of 2022 has been the most engaged group I’ve ever had in any of these sessions. They are incredibly bright, very kind, work together extremely well, support one another and have healthy competition. I’m looking at them, seeing what the future of business looks like, and I’m so very impressed.”
Redd also noted how involvement from MarxModa leadership helped to make the event a success.
“To our partners at MarxModa, thank you for lending your time and support, for inspiring this case and coming here to evaluate our students. We are glad you gave us a challenging opportunity and, really, an opportunity to work in a space that we have not done so in Extreme Greens before,” she said.
The top three teams walked away with not only fellowship awards but also a wealth of experience. The transferrable skillsets that students gain through Extreme Green sprints relate to a host of corporate business challenges. Spartan MBAs will enter the business world with a solid understanding of how to analyze business problems, examining barriers and uncovering success drivers for stakeholders.