Systematic Innovation Tools: The Course

by | Apr 12, 2010 | Innovation Method, Inside the Box Innovation | 0 comments

I am teaching my innovation course, Systematic Innovation Tools, at the University of Cincinnati this month. The course 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.   This current group of 31 graduate students are very bright and skillful when learning and applying innovation.  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 an effective 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 an assigned category.  We have six teams for the following clients:

  1. Pitcher1_box_large Procter & Gamble:  This team is innovating the PUR Water Filtration system to make the product line more adaptable in a variety of markets and situations.
  2. General Tool:  The team is innovating a medium sized jet engine to find new improvements or features that would extend the use of the engine into non-aviation applications.
  3. Cincinnati Art Museum:  This team is creating new ideas for how the museum displays art to create a whole new user experience for its visitors.
  4. Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati:  The students in this team are creating new clothing products and accessories for people with Down Syndrome.
  5. Twist Design Studio:  This new start-up company will feature unique, custom-made wedding and corporate invitations.  The students are using structured innovation to create completely new forms of invitations and paper-based products.
  6. Metro Innovation:  This organization holds innovation competitions on behalf of sponsoring cities to drive economic development.  The assigned students are using innovation tools to re-invent how the competitions are run.

For the final exam, 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 demonstrates: 1. mastery of the skills of innovation, and 2.  the ability innovate within the context of marketing strategy.

I will post some of the results the Dream Catalogs and the final exams here on the blog.