In 2009, I was given the opportunity to create and teach a new course at UC Berkeley’s “Management of Technology” group, serving both master-degree candidates in Engineering as well as MBAs at the Haas School. All in all we had 46 students in the class. The class is called ICE –“Innovation, Creativity & The Entrepreneur.”
I am personally very grateful for the opportunity to teach this particular course. First of all, I am interested at this point in giving something back to others – and this class represented the ULTIMATE way to give something back to the younger generation – this is the future generation of innovative leaders. And, Creativity is a life-long passion of mine. Lastly, the results of the class were extremely rewarding (read on, below).
Why a Class on Creativity/Innovation AND Entrepreneurship?
While colleges & corporations all over the world are stressing Innovation, and even Berkeley itself has several leaders in the field of innovation, such as Professor Sara Beckman and Professor Henry Chesbrough, I researched ENTREPRENEURIAL Innovation in 2008. We do have a very excellent Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation here at the Haas School – the emphasis is on hands-on student learning for future entrepreneurs. I teach New Venture Finance each spring from within this Center. Several classes within Lester Center integrate ideas on creativity and innovation into their curriculum.
Outside of Berkeley, I could find very little in this area – few cases, very few articles, few courses taught on the subject (Harvard Business School had a course of this nature in the late 1980’s, taught by professor, John Kao), and the last book I could find on the topic of Innovation and Entrepreneurship was a book by that very name by Peter Drucker in 1985. (If I’ve missed something in my research, my apologies – I’d LOVE to learn about it).
Plenty out there on Innovation and Corporations, but little on entrepreneurship…maybe entrepreneurs are EXPECTED to be innovative…but of course they are not necessarily, in reality.
Topics on Creativity
The class basically covered these topics on Creativity & Innovation:
- Definitions of Creativity & Innovation in the working world
- Company Environment – how physical space, values, beliefs & culture affect innovation
- Leadership – how to enhance or kill Creativity in the entrepreneurial environment (see my previous post on this topic)
- Measuring Group and Individual Creativity
- The Creative Problem Solving Process
- Management of Global Creativity
- Creativity in Design
- Innovations in Product Development
- Innovations in Marketing (see my previous posts on this topic)
- HR , Company Culture and Innovation (see my previous posts on this topic)
- How business models affect innovation
Speakers really enhanced the class !
At UC Berkeley, we are very fortunate to be closeto the Silicon Valley (and I’m fortunate to know a lot of people!) During the 15 week class we had a variety of excellent speakers parade through the halls of the Haas School on their way to our classroom. I am highly indebted and grateful to the following seasoned professionals for their time and great presentations:
New cases developed for this class
As luck would have it, I had superb support from Anne Marxer who is a MBA candidate at Haas and did a great job as my Teaching Assistant. We also were very fortunate to get 4 special case studies done – Case studies were also superbly written by Jenny Herbert Creek (on Netflix’s Cultural innovations) and Rekha Ravindra (on Reply’s business model innovations) – thanks ladies!
Professor Linda Hill, a long-time mentor and well-know professor/administrator at Harvard Business School, co-collaborated with me on a case on Digital Chocolate, which was nicely written by HBS West Executive Director Alison Wagonfeld. The case is available world-wide now through the HBS Publishing – see: http://hbr.org/product/digital-chocolate/an/410049-PDF-ENG?N=4294958507%2520516161
Of course, no classroom on innovation or creativity would make sense unless we tried to be a little innovative ourselves. I surprised myself by managing to come up with at least 4 innovation in this classroom, that the students seem to enjoy. Some of the approaches were bit out of the ordinary and took advantage of existing technologies:
- Classroom Innovation #1: the Virtual case – With expert videographer and Cal grad Suzanne Lamar, I created four unique cases and tested them out on the class – each case was filmed at the company and then presented on the web in snippets (each no more than 2 minutes long, a total of 6-8 per company). Students were asked to write down answers to questions on each clip, in addition to reading a short case study on the company. The result: students seem to retain more of the learning, and internalized the material, plus had more fun. For great examples of this, see: http://www.haykin.net/learning/index.html
- Classroom Innovation #2: unique use of Wiki – I asked all 50 students in the class to each come up with 2 examples of Marketing Innovation (from anywhere in world) off the ‘Net and enter their findings in a wiki which was organized by marketing topic. The result was so rich and useful for a 2 hour class – but in reality we created enough material for the basis of an ENTIRE COURSE on Marketing Innovation. During my lecture, I shared a framework on marketing with the class, then stitched together examples they had all posted – in real time and using video, audio, etc. We had an amazing time.
- Classroom Innovation #3: unique use of Online forums - we used this as a classroom tool to allow better participation by students. Some students were shy by nature and said less in class. I created a discussion forum online that only the class could see and comment on. Those students who were quiet in class had a chance to “speak up” and many of them left comments all semester long. Plus the students interacted (debated, complimented, compared) with each other in these forums. The forums also provided great feedback for me from the students on class tools, speakers, etc.
- Classroom Innovation #4: the Personal Innovation Plan – one final brainchild I had for this class was called the “PIP” (personal innovation plan). During the 15 weeks of class, I asked each student to keep a Personal Journal of what they were learning, their thoughts and ideas. Then, I asked each student to come up with a full person plan of how they would put the class into action in their own lives – using what they had learned all semester. About half the class presented their PIPs to me, and the other half delivered physical PIPs.
Here are some examples of the amazing plans that the students presented, some of them were WORKS OF ART:
- A colorful desk calendar that provides photos, quotes, memorable learnings from class for each month of 2010
- A live multi-media website the integrates all the course material, assignments, personal journals
- A desktop full-scale model of House in the movie “Up!” from Pixar containing a hidden journal and go-forward plan
- A magazine interview revealing personal findings and learnings
- An amazing short story about a Bunny (who was in fact the student in disguise)
- Interpretation of a few weeks of dreams and how they fit into the creative process
- A Powerpoint slide show of images/photos along with orginal music
- A comic-strip representing all that was learned in class
- Original Music demonstrating several aspects of the class
Through this approach, and innovations during the semester, I felt that I got the privilege of getting to know the 46 students in my class more intimately than most other professors at US institutions.
If you have any questions about this class, I’d love to hear from you at Haykin@haas.berkeley.edu, or leave your comment at bottom of this blog!