In a world characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, leaders require innovation skills. Thinking flexibly and developing an entrepreneurial mindset are critical to thriving in uncertain business environments. This specialization addresses how to recognize and question assumptions and constraints so as to identify and capitalize on opportunities. Innovation is needed within existing organizations and to found new organizations. Learning to change the rules of the game by creating innovative value propositions and discovering new market positions for sustained competitive advantage are some of the actionable lessons in this specialization.
This specialization will be of value to both aspiring and practicing entrepreneurs as well as employees in established firms who are interested in becoming innovative leaders in an interconnected world.
Strategic Innovation: Building and Sustaining Innovative Organizations
Innovation strategy is about creating unique value for consumers by delivering a great product that satisfies their needs and capturing value back from consumers. At the core of a successful innovation strategy is a great product concept. Product is an all-encompassing term that includes physical goods, intangible services, and even ideas. There are three pillars to a successful product strategy: a clear understanding of (a) the target customers (WHO), (b) the specific elements of the product offering (WHAT) that satisfies consumer needs and dovetails with company capabilities, and (c) the tactical plans to reach end consumers (HOW). The value proposition has to be embedded in a coherent business model in order to create and capture value. But well-laid innovation plans can go awry without a consideration of the business ecosystem that includes competitors, collaborators, including suppliers, distributors, and retailers, or the contextual environment in which the company operates. In an interdependent world, fostering an integrated ecosystem is critically important for companies interested in maximizing the odds of innovation success. Drawing from many years of research, this course will offer a set of frameworks, tools, and concepts in order to develop innovative strategies in a holistic way so as to achieve leadership positions.
Strategic Innovation: Managing Innovation Initiatives
You may have noticed that what is new often behaves differently than what has become accepted over time, whether it is in a market, or a technology, or involves people and firms. Much research supports these general ideas, and this course builds on them to help you develop a perspective on managing innovation. That is, you will build your capability to lead and design your organization in effectively implementing innovation initiatives and achieving their strategic intent. To do this, you will learn a set of frameworks, tools, and concepts that can help you address several important challenges in managing innovation. The first challenge regards how to successfully implement innovation efforts within established firms and alongside established businesses. You then investigate the particulars of managing innovation when disruptive technologies are involved. Other topics include leadership of new product development teams, planning and evaluation of innovation initiatives, and management of innovation across organizational boundaries, as happens with alliances or virtual firms.
Creativity Toolkit I: Changing Perspectives
Thinking and doing the same things faster and better is not enough; we need creativity. Fortunately, creativity is a skill you can learn. This course will examine when, why, and how we can be creative. It examines the cues that trigger us to consider being creative. It provides a road map of the creative process – the process of changing our perspectives – and the kinds of outcomes that result from creativity. It examines how we can go through the creative process more efficiently and more effectively by examining what is changing about our thinking and how we can make those changes. The end result is more flexible thinking that can be used to recognize and develop new opportunities.
Creativity Toolkit II: Creative Collaboration
Creativity requires us to collaborate with others. This course is designed to make you a better creative collaborator. Creativity can require us to bring together knowledge from different areas, often known by different people. We need to foster effective collaboration rather than have those differences lead to misunderstandings and conflict. The ideas that we generate, individually or collectively, will be evaluated by others, such as bosses, funders, and customers. These audiences will likely have different concerns when they hear about your ideas and are likely to evaluate ideas differently than you do. We need to pitch our ideas in ways that get others excited about them, rather than bored or confused, so that we can expand the group of collaborators in our creative efforts.
Entrepreneurship I: Laying the Foundation
This course will explore the earlier stages of the entrepreneurial venture process across four modules. The modules will examine the nature of growth and error in entrepreneurial settings and how to manage resources in those settings. In addition, the modules will explore the emergence and existence of entrepreneurial opportunities, the formulation of ideas in relation to those opportunities, and how those opportunities and ideas influence entrepreneurial phenomena. Finally, the course modules will focus on how business concepts underlie compelling entrepreneurial missions that provide guidance to the evolution of a venture’s business model and future strategic planning.
Entrepreneurship II: Preparing for Launch
This course builds on previous concepts and outlines strategies and tactics for forming, financing and launching a new venture. Topics to be addressed will include building the new venture’s initial management team, identifying and reaching out to early customers, developing financial plans, raising startup and initial growth financing, and preparing for and managing rapid growth. Course objectives: Entrepreneurial Team Building: Develop an understanding of the what is required in a new venture Initial Go-to-Market Strategy: Develop a plan to identify and approach your first customers Financial Forecasting: Building financial projections for the new venture Entrepreneurial Financing: Raising Equity Capital for the new venture Growing the Business: Monitoring the new venture’s health and scalability
Innovation: From Creativity to Entrepreneurship Capstone
The capstone for the specialization will provide a learning experience that integrates across all the courses within it. It will involve analysis of a situation concerning a new enterprise – a venture of one’s own or within a larger organization – to develop the current business model and compare against alternative business models so as to identify potential opportunities and challenges.