The Innovation Exchange

Today’s conference at Washington University, called the Innovation Exchange, brought together top scholars and business leaders to think collaboratively about fostering innovation.  It was hosted by our new Institute for Innovation and Growth.  Keynote speakers included:

Bill Peck (former Dean of Washington U. Medical School and founder of Innovate St. Louis)

Carliss Baldwin (Professor at Harvard Business School and an expert in the relations between design and the economy)

Christoph Loch (Professor of Corporate Innovation at INSEAD, possibly the best business school in Europe)

Jeff DeGraff (Dean of Innovation at the Competing Values Company and a professor at University of Michigan)

Key insights that emerged included:

* The need to transform business school education to teach for innovation

* The desire for managers and innovation champions to have a forum where they can exchange problems, issues, and solutions

* The need for managers and staff to be educated about how innovative companies work, and how they can make their own organizations more innovative

Watch this blog in the coming year, as this new Institute for Innovation begins to take shape.

4 thoughts on “The Innovation Exchange

  1. …”to transform b. school education to teach for innovation”…

    I’m on pins and needles to see how that one works out. Not that the notion is bad, rather impossible. I don’t think we can teach innovation.

    I think we can teach managers how to foster, and not stifle naturally occurring innovation, (particularly MBAs, who are by training (if not inclination) hung up on spreadsheets and the quantitative).


    That said, I’d love to see a report-out after the conference.

  2. I understand what you’re saying about the fostering-vs-teaching issue. I myself have some doubts that “teaching creativity” is possible. However, our speaker Jeff DeGraff reported that he’d been doing that at the University of Michigan for twenty years. Personally, I prefer to talk about “educating for innovation” which in my view involves teaching every subject in a different way: a shift from rote memorization to deeper conceptual understanding. If your entire curriculum is uncreative, then adding one course on “creativity” won’t change anything.

  3. Now, that you can do. And unfortunately we do too little of it. We simply don’t teach people to be critical (or creative) thinkers.

    I think that training needs to start well before university (like preschool), and be continuously built upon. Native creativity like any talent can be polished to the point where your practiced ability can exceed others with greater native talents.

    a “deeper conceptual understanding” is not only more useful but a significant competitive advantage. Facts based learning always seemed basically useless, you can look up (or in the case of right-wing talk show hosts, make up) facts.

  4. The research into teaching for deeper conceptual understanding is largely associated with an interdisciplinary area known as “the learning sciences.” A good introduction to this area (although it’s a bit academic) is THE CAMBRIDGE HANDBOOK OF THE LEARNING SCIENCES (2006), and my conclusion chapter talks about how we can use this research to redesign schools to educate for innovation.

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