The Improbable - An artistic take on entrepreneurship

The Improbable,

Experience the artistic approach to entrepreneurship!


As artificial intelligence, automatization and robotics constantly develop, it is essential to train people to change their ways of thinking and move it into the direction of the improbable, instead of the probable. When this realization is considered in the context of business and entrepreneurship, it is increasingly clear that there has to be a change in the way that people do things, view the world and learn entrepreneurial skills.


The Improbable, an event where entrepreneurial skills and methods of innovation are taught using various artistic workshops, was hosted in the university of Oulu on 3.5-5.5.2018. Although the event has been organized in Oulu before, this installation of it was special due to the fact that the very architect of the method, a French professor Sylvain Bureau, came to give the lectures of the program and guide the participants while they experienced a prototype of the entrepreneurial process. He was joined by a German artist Martin Born, creating a pair with expert insight to both business and artistic sides of entrepreneurship.

Thinking in innovative and unpredictable ways is a skill that is becoming increasingly important, which is an underlying principle of Sylvain Bureau’s method of teaching entrepreneurship. Instead of utilizing more traditional approach and studying entrepreneurial activities with business orientated tools, the participants practice essential entrepreneurship related skills by working together and creating art. The participants coming from various different backgrounds both in the terms of education and life situation, chose megatrends important to today’s society and in an intensive three-day period worked in groups while turning their ideas about these trends into innovative pieces of art that were unveiled in an exhibition in the Oulu city center.


An installation in the final art exhibition on 5.5.2018


The diversity of the people taking part in the program was extraordinary in the opinion of Bureau as well. While usually this sort of a course appeals to students coming from fields related to business and art, this installation of The Improbable had a sample of different educational backgrounds far wider than the previously organized ones have had. In addition to the aforementioned business and art students, the educational fields of the participants included numerous different ones, such as history, literature, and philosophy. The participants also varied in terms of their educational level, since the event had people coming from bachelor, master, and even doctoral programs. The diversity of the student group was even further enhanced by the fact that seven different nationalities were represented in it, which showcases the international nature and potential of the program. This round of the program was also unique due to the fact that the participating students were joined by already working professionals coming from the OP financial group.


By utilizing the artistic approach to the teaching of entrepreneurship, Bureau aims to train skills such as networking, creativity, tolerating setbacks and working outside of one’s comfort zone, in a new and fascinating way. This being a new and innovative way of looking into how to train these skills, the very method of doing so has been incrementally developed and improved after each installation of it. Just last year The Improbable was organized in Oulu in the form of an extremely intensive 24h camp, while the program was now spread out to three different days. During these three days, the participants took part in group working sessions and workshops, while doing constant cycles of getting feedback both from the professors as well as their peers, and pivoting their work accordingly. The process of practical work was complemented by a series of lectures held by Bureau and Born. During these lectures the visiting experts shared their knowledge and insight about the way of thinking where entrepreneurial business and art walk hand-in-hand while entering domains of excellence that neither of them could reach independently. The revolutionary potential of The Improbable method has been recognized widely on the international stage as well. The method has not only been utilized in top European business schools in Paris, Berlin and Madrid, but it has also been planned to be implemented soon in Japan, Canada and the Stanford University in the United States. The Oulu University is the first university in Finland that offers the possibility to experience Bureau’s vision of what entrepreneurial education should be.


Views and ideas of global megatrends were turned into ready pieces of art in intensive workshops


Although this drastically different approach to teaching and learning about entrepreneurship might take some people off-guard, the participants of the event found it extremely helpful. This can be observed in the thoughts of a history student Aleksi Pannula, who took part in the program. He said that although he didn’t really know what to expect before the program started, the process had helped him realize that one can’t control everything when working in a group and that it is important to take everyone’s views and opinions into account. He had also found the experience of working in a setting of tremendous uncertainty to be very eye-opening and insightful. Similar thoughts were woken in other people that took part in the program as well, for example a university researcher Christian Schuss. He shared with us an idea that had become clear to him during the practical work sessions. He concluded that if people from different backgrounds and schools of thought work closely together, even though the process might at first feel difficult, they might reach a well-rounded and insightful result which might not have been the case if the collaboration had been conducted by people of similar interests and opinions. This notion was also reflected in the thoughts of a philology student and The Improbable participant Sonja Haapanen, who emphasized the importance of the role of different opinions in reaching innovative results through mutual challenging of ideas and critical reflection.


Positive experiences were shared by the participants from the OP financial group as well, who described the process to have been rewarding in the context of the stage of their careers too, and to have given them useful tools that could be utilized in situations that arise in working life. Their opinions about the program to an extent echoed that of the student participants in terms of them finding the setting of uncertainty to have been a source of an eye-opening experience. In addition to that Antti Hyytinen, a junior development manager at OP financial group, appreciated the straining and tiring nature of the process and found the program as a whole to have been a fascinating learning situation.


The Improbable was received with an extremely positive reaction


The improbable is an invaluable opportunity to expand your horizons and change the way that you view the world. Not only do you get to collaborate with fascinating people in a unique way, but you also gain access to a program that challenges you to evolve the way that you think about mundane things like work and social interaction. The next installation on the improbable will be taking place during the next academic year and is a great opportunity for anyone who enjoys working closely together with others or has a notion of starting one’s own business someday. The Improbable is also included in the “Building business through creativity and collaboration course, which is a part of the entrepreneurship studies offered by the University of Oulu. Whether you are a student looking for a good way to enrich your studies or already in the working life and wanting to gain useful insights into the nature of collaboration, The Improbable is a great opportunity that you shouldn’t let pass by!


Join us in reaching improbable results with absolute certainty!

Last updated: 18.5.2018