IMD Professor of Strategy and International Business Niccolò Pisani has won the Overall Award in The Case Centre’s 2022 global Case Awards and Competitions, for his case titled adidas: How to Keep Running Fast in a Post-COVID-19 World?, co-written with Ornella Lupoi from the University of Amsterdam. 

Vanina Farber, elea Professor for Social Innovation, and IMD Research Associate Shih-Han Huang were selected as competition winners in the category Outstanding Case Writer for Angaza: A Silicon Valley Journey. 

It is the fifth time in the competition’s 32-year history that a member of the IMD faculty has won the Overall Award, with previous wins in 2014, 2002, 1995, and 1993. 

“It feels very rewarding to know that so many colleagues have found our case valuable for their own teaching and students from all over the world have used our case in their learning journeys,” said Professor Pisani. 

Pisani’s case, which he teaches in IMD's Foundations for Business Leadership program, examines how the performance of the world’s second-largest sportswear goods company was hit by the lockdowns imposed by governments. Faced with uncertainty and changing consumer habits, CEO Kaspar Rørsted was forced to decide how to adjust strategy to keep the company growing in a post-COVID-19 world. 

Changing business landscape 

“I think the case has been so popular for three main reasons. Firstly, adidas, beyond being an iconic brand, offers a great business setting to discuss how disruptive the pandemic has been and, in turn, how this has affected companies’ strategies to remain competitive in a post-COVID-19 world,” said Pisani. 

“Secondly, the case triggers an in-depth discussion on the fundamental trends driving change in the business landscape nowadays – from digitalization to sustainability and the retail disruption – and how these can inform the strategic choices that companies such as adidas need to make to future proof themselves. Thirdly, the case has a clear story that caters for different audiences, which certainly contributed to its widespread adoption.” 

The case, which was published in September 2020, also proved timely providing valuable insights about the impact of the pandemic on strategy at a time when many companies were still reeling from its effects. 

Inspiring female protagonists 

Farber’s case explores the story of a female social entrepreneur, Lesley Silverthorn Marincola, who transformed her company Angaza from a solar-light producer into a software provider offering pay-as-you-go (PAYG) metering and monitoring technology. 

“I am very proud of this recognition since I love bringing impactful cases with inspiring female protagonists into the classroom. For a me, a great case lets the characters and story talk. We don’t tell the reader the ‘right’ course of action. We just bring them into a journey of self-discovery,” said Professor Farber. 

I especially like working on the teaching note, and typically spend more time on this than on the case itself. I am happy the jurors noticed the work and dedication it takes, and I hope other professors around the world will find it useful,” Farber added. 

The Case Centre’s 11 Awards and five Competitions recognize outstanding case writers and teachers from across the globe and are considered the case method community’s annual “Oscars”.