In the following post, D’Amore-McKim School of Business Professor Tucker Marion outlines the school’s unique and desirable approach to teaching innovation.
Starting with the Master of Science in Innovation (MSI) program, we have worked over the last year on developing an ecosystem designed to train and develop corporate innovators. Teaching innovation, as we see it, is a continuum spanning from corporate partners and executive education needs to on-ground graduate student cohorts.
When we launched the MSI program in the fall of 2014, we focused on the right side of the continuum – the on-ground graduate program, which covers 10 courses over a year. In the fall of 2016, we entered our third class – the largest and most diverse yet. With average work experience of 12 years and backgrounds spanning from technology services to food innovation, we are excited that our vision for teaching corporate intrapreneurship and innovation is resonating with students and the marketplace. We look forward to seeing where our students take their innovation projects over the course of the next year! (Read about some of our students’ experiences here.)
The second part of our plan is to reach beyond the geographic limits of the Boston area. Markets like San Diego and Austin are prime areas that have high concentrations of technology-focused industry, but not a wide array of options in dedicated innovation business programs.
Additionally, we want to reach global audiences, from Shanghai to Amsterdam to Tel Aviv. Working with Northeastern University’s Global Network, we have developed a completely online version of the graduate MSI program, which we see as the perfect vehicle to reach these global hotbeds of innovation.
Because of the experiential nature of the MSI program, this presented a development challenge. To ensure that the program captured the feel, rigor, and adaptive learning experience of the traditional program, each professor worked closely with an instructional designer to deploy the latest in online learning technology. Each class is unique, with each professor giving her or his signature style and content. There are no teaching assistants – each course is designed, delivered, and run by the on-ground faculty. Each of the courses is segmented into approximately 10 modules, delivered asynchronously with weekly live sessions over the course of nine weeks. And it’s these course modules that lay the groundwork for the next stage of our innovation education ecosystem. The online MSI program runs over a full year, and is launching in January 2017.
Nearly all of D’Amore-McKim’s corporate executive education partners express the same desire for their managers and employees. At the core, that is developing the skills to identify better opportunities, iterate and test potential solutions rapidly, and obtain financing to realize the innovation. The modular design of the online MSI classes allow us to bundle learning modules into custom courses, which in turn can be bundled for graduate certificates for credit.
This gives us three main features:
- Online access to our leading innovation professors and content,
- A platform to develop new skills for employees,
- Adaptive and experiential learning for active innovation projects within the company.
Important to the success of these programs is maintaining D’Amore-McKim’s focus on the power and importance of experiential learning. Try, fail, and learn. For all of our programs, to best realize this we rely heavily on coaching. One-on-one and team focused, this is where the lessons and direct professor feedback hit home.
A recent example of an executive education program we developed was for a leading technology firm. We worked with the firm to design a custom graduate certificate to pair with their internal innovation contest winners – proving real-time education and coaching for a global cohort. We developed the three-course, credit-bearing, online-education certificate program in the spring of 2016, working directly with the firm to ensure the learning objectives meshed directly with their corporate KPIs. The three course topics included innovation and product strategy, rapid design and development, and financing innovation. The content, accessible asynchronously, was augmented by weekly live sessions and special, dedicated coaching sessions. The innovation participants were global – from India to Egypt. Over the course of several months, we were able to shape and hone the innovation projects, help plan and evaluate proof of concepts, and develop a financial plan for the projects to go into implementation phase. Not only did the projects mature at a faster rate, but the student innovators learned key concepts and frameworks that can help them well beyond their current innovation projects.
In summary, the flexibility and modularity we have developed for our innovation programs, we believe, is unrivaled, and it’s gaining the attention of industry leaders. From on-ground traditional cohorts to custom executive education programs, we have developed a suite of offerings that can be specifically tailored to your needs.
Learn more about how our innovation programs may improve your approach and implementation of innovation, from the project level to the C-suite, here.