Many products are invented accidentally. Serendipity led to the microwave oven, corn flakes, Teflon®, penicillin, fireworks, Viagra®, chocolate chip cookies, and the most famous of all accidents...the Post-it® note. The problem with serendipity is it's not predictable. It is not an innovation method one would count on for corporate growth. But there is value in serendipity if you can unlock its hidden secrets. How?
The Live Well Collaborative at the University of Cincinnati is an academic-industry innovation incubator for regionally, nationally and internationally prominent firms. The focus of LWC is the aging population. Firms partner with UC to address product or service needs for the 50+ market. The UC students and faculty conduct research and develop ideas incorporating expertise from fields including design, business, engineering, medicine and even anthropology.
The University of Cincinnati's first Massive Open Online Course begins next week, October 7th. The course is free and open to all.
In this course, participants will master the tools necessary to generate new ideas and quickly transform those concepts into a viable pipeline of new products and services. They will learn a highly effective method of idea generation called Systematic Inventive Thinking used by many global firms across a wide variety of industries. They will also learn a suite of design thinking tools to take new concepts and put “life” into them. Generating ideas is not enough. Design thinking takes new ideas and sculpts them into market-winning products and services. Participants will learn the mechanics of each S.I.T. tool, and practice the use of each on a real product or service. Additionally, they will learn from a panel of seasoned practitioners and experts in the fields of innovation, new product development, and venture start-up.
The terms innovation and design thinking are used so often in so many different contexts, often interchanged, and sometimes misused. What do they really mean? More importantly, how do they relate to each other?
These questions set the stage for “Innovation and Design Thinking,” the first Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) offered by the University of Cincinnati and the largest course ever taught since it was founded in 1819. Nearly two thousand students from around the world are participating.
Innovators have a rough road ahead. Despite the mandate for growth and the pleas for a more innovative culture, innovators face a lot of challenges from both inside and outside the organization. That was the major theme we explored this week in "Innovation and Design Thinking."
Systematic methods of innovation and design will help you produce a pipeline of ideas. But this creates a new, maybe tougher problem for the practitioner: How do you pick the right ideas to work on? Filtering ideas is an essential part of the innovation process. You want to make sure you spend your time only those ideas with the most potential.
Here's a sample of opinions from our student/practitioners on how to do it:
Leaders need to make innovation personal. Creating a culture, from the top down, where innovation is encouraged appears to be a successful formula. Mike Clem reminds us again that there needs to be a bit of a designer in all of us, and this especially applies to management.