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The unique train


This method enables the students to discuss how their ideas are different from those of competitors, in order to uncover potential sources of competitive advantages.


Ask the students to imagine their idea as a unique, assembled train on an important mission: namely to outperform current and potential competitors in the market. The students draw a train with ten train carriages on a large poster or the like. Each of these train carriages is labelled in accordance with the model (see illustration). Now, the students start loading their train carriages with ideas, sketches, notes and the like that underline the uniqueness of their idea. When all of the train carriages are loaded, the students reflect on and discuss the content of their train carriages in relation to their potential competitors in the market, which can be sketched in the same way. The students need to ask themselves whether their train is loaded adequately in order to survive in the competitive marketplace, or whether they need to make improvements


Some of the train carriages will, probably, still stand empty at the end of the activity. This provides encouragement for discussion as to how these train carriages can be loaded in order to strengthen the uniqueness of the idea even further. In this way, the ‘unique train’ method also opens up divergent thinking processes.


Barney, J. (1991). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of management, 17(1), 99-120.