Incube 2018 From inside (Part II) – A leap into the challenge

Pure excitement for the upcoming weekend © Thi My Lien Nguyen

InCube and the “Shiz-Academy”

On a sunny and shiny afternoon,  the view on Polyterrasse starts to reveal it’s most beautiful form. The participants in Switzerland were standing in front of the cube, chatting, joking and having Apéro. For most of them was it the first reunion after OutCube the weekend before. The reflection of sunlight made their smile even more glamorous. There was excitement, nervous and joy in the air.  Within half an hour, they would find out their cubemates and launch the journey with them. From there, the real story starts. Within just a couple of minutes the then secret teams were announced and assigned to the Cubes.

At 7 pm sharp, my cubes took their first step into the fresh cube. And soon they decide to name the team “Shiz-Academy”. And “Shiz-Academy” became our cheer word. In the evening, we went out for a simple dinner and chat. Vegetarian food and chatting about relaxing topics make made the team building much easier.

However, one thing they would not imagined is this evening to be the last relaxing evening for the duration of InCube. During the four days InCube challenge, we had to stick to a strict timeline. Except the fixed breaks for lunch and supper, every hour was filled with tasks and goals. Everyday was marked by a milestone which had to be submitted by midnight. Every minute their brains were constantly spinning fast and working on the problem. It’s an absolute challenge for everyone.

My role during InCube was the facilitator in the Polyterrasse cube. The same location as last year, back when I was a participant of InCube.  However, stepping into the cube as a facilitator with six energetic cube participants, it’s a complete new experience.

© Thi My Lien Nguyen

Friday: Explore and trust the process

08:05 AM, Friday, the program started on time. It’s a day about diving into Design Thinking.  The entire morning was about conducting interviews and brainstorming. The purpose was to explore the problem set of education. It was their first glance at the problem through the eyes of outsides. The pace was fast. Before lunch,  all interviews had to be finished. And the quality of interview could largely affect the direction and quality of the entire process. The more interviews you got, the closer to the real problem you may get. Due to the limited amount of time, it was impossible to collect large numbers of interviews. In this case, a random input by a random interviewee around the cube, may largely affect the direction later on. This is an intrinsic challenge to everyone.

After lunch the participants worked on developing their problem statement and ideated solutions based on the conducted interviews. Finally,  before going to bed that first day, they had to submit the first patch of quick prototypes.


The first day started with everyone being fresh everyone in the morning, but the confusion about the sheer scale of the challenge started to develop quickly. In particular, after the first expert session in the evening, the information overload was hard to bear. The team had such an abundance of inputs from others, it was hard to develop their own views on the challenge. Additionally, the team member started to sense the tension that begin to rise during  the discussions. With six strong and distinct characters in a cube, tension could arise at any point of discussion.

However, no real conflicts actually happened. The rescue came in form of a tennis ball. We had it rotate between us, giving only the current holder the right of speech during discussions. Agnieszka took initiative to let everyone talk about the day by saying the things they liked and things they wished to be better, where every sentences starts with “I wish”.  From that point on, they always managed to keep a structured and organised way of discussion.

Thanks to the tennis ball and Agnieszka.

©Raisa Durandi

The first day passed peacefully and productively. Would the team finally be able to develop their own view on the challenge? How has Saturday turned out for them? Stay tuned for Part III. 

And a big thanks to Niels Rot and Professor Ernst Hafen for their expert insights.


Shirzart Enwer was InCube participant 2017, co-organiser 2018 and cube facilitator for the Education Team on Polyterasse during InCube 2018. He is doing his Master studies in environmental engineering at ETH.






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