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.
October brings the start of the U.S. baseball championship called the World Series. Baseball, like innovation, is a team sport, and success demands best practices out of the players and team managers. We thought it might be useful compare innovation and baseball given this week’s focus on teams.
Baseball is a diverse sport played in many countries The U.S professional league (called Major League Baseball) has 1200 players from 19 countries. Innovation also requires diversity. A best practice is to make innovation teams diverse in several ways: cross-functional, gender, experience, and cultural. Diverse teams harness the unique perspectives of the team members when applying the innovation and design thinking tools taught in this course.
By the way, how does this MOOC compare to Major League Baseball? We have over 2100 participants from 55 countries! Evidently, diversity is also a driver of learning.
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.