Applied Marketing Innovation

The LAB: Innovating a Refrigerator with the Division Template (December 2008)
December 31, 2008
Mapping the Innovation Gap
January 28, 2009

Learning a corporate innovation method begins with formal training, and there is no better place to do that than in graduate businesss school. I am looking foward to meeting the 37 students enrolled in my MBA course at the University of Cincinnati this month. The course, "Applied Marketing Innovation," is a full credit "special topics" course. It is a fusion of Systematic Inventive Thinking and The Big Picture marketing framework. The Syllabus can be downloaded, but here are some details about it: This course focuses on how to create value and growth through innovation in new and existing markets. Students will learn the skills of innovation and how to apply those skills within the context of a marketing strategy framework. Students will apply innovation methods across the entire marketing management continuum including strategy, segmentation, targeting, positioning, and the 4P’s. The course will be taught using interactive workshop methods and techniques throughout. Students will first experience these facilitation techniques while learning innovation. They will then learn and practice these techniques so that they can apply them routinely throughout their graduate experience and beyond.

Learning a corporate innovation method begins with formal training, and there is no better place to do that than in graduate business school.  I am looking forward to meeting the 37 students enrolled in my MBA course at the University of Cincinnati this month. The course, “Applied Marketing Innovation,” is a full credit course.  It is a fusion of Systematic Inventive Thinking and The Big Picture marketing framework.  The Syllabus can be downloaded, but here are some details about it:

“This course focuses on how to create value and growth through innovation in new and existing markets. Students will learn the skills of innovation and how to apply those skills within the context of a marketing strategy framework. Students will apply innovation methods across the entire marketing management continuum including strategy, segmentation, targeting, positioning, and the 4P’s. The course will be taught using interactive workshop methods and techniques throughout. Students will first experience these facilitation techniques while learning innovation. They will then learn and practice these techniques so that they can apply them routinely throughout their graduate experience and beyond.”

Two aspects of this course are unique.  First, we don’t just talk about innovation…we DO innovation.  MBA students in particular are aggressive and skillful when learning and applying innovation. I am sure this group of students will be no different.  The other unique aspect is the creation of new products and services that are formalized in a hypothetical company catalog – The Dream Catalog.  This is a clever way to take new innovations and rationalize them into a coherent pipeline for growth.  Students work in teams to create an actual Dream Catalog within a business of their choice.  In past courses, some students have used this assignment for their own companies.  It is a graded assignment.  I will publish the results of this exercise here on the blog.

The final exam is scary!  Students will be given a product randomly (with no advance preparation).  They must use each of the five templates of innovation (Subtraction, Task Unification, Multiplication, Division, and Attribute Dependency) on that product to create new-to-the-world inventions.  They have to take each invention and plot what strategic quadrant of The Big Picture would be most suitable.  It is a tough exercise.  It demonstrates: 1. mastery of the skills of innovation, and 2.  the ability innovate within the context of marketing strategy.  I will also post some of the results from the final exam here on the blog. 

If you have a product that you would like to see innovated by my students on the final exam, please let me know!

I want to thank Professor Jacob Goldenberg at Columbia Business School and Professor Christie Nordhielm at the Ross School of Business at The University of Michigan for their support in developing this course.  It is intended to be a blend of their tremendous contributions.  It is a privilege to teach it.