I’m looking forward to teaching “Innovation Tools,” the graduate marketing course at the University of Cincinnati. The course teaches how to use Systematic Inventive Thinking, a method based on three ideas. First, most successful innovations over time followed one of five patterns, and these patterns are like the DNA of products that can be re-applied to innovate any product or service. Second, innovation happens when we start with a configuration (the “solution”) and work backwards to the “problem” that it solves. It turns out that humans are better at this than the traditional “problem-to-solution” approach to innovating. Finally, better innovation happens when we start within the world of the problem (the Closed World). Innovations that use elements of the problem or surrounding environment are more novel and surprising. We innovate “inside the box,” not outside.
Students learn not only how to innovate, but they also learn how to link it to marketing strategy. We teach the Big Picture marketing framework so that students know how to tie innovation and strategy and create an innovation roadmap.
We have 50 graduate students, mostly from our master of science of marketing program plus candidates from other colleges. Student teams are working on the following projects:
The output from each team is a “Dream Catalog,” a hypothetical portrayal of the best of the ideas in graphic form. This is a technique we teach so that students know how to bring innovations to life and align an organization to gain support.
As in past courses, the final exam is a complete and comprehensive demonstration of “innovating on demand.” Students are given a product that they do not know ahead of time. They have three hours to use each of the five SIT patterns correctly to create completely new-to-the-world innovations in that category. You can see the output of these final exams and the dream catalogs at our innovation wiki.