Throughout the past month we, the MAIM class of 2014, have explored the overarching themes that shape our collective vision of innovation: experimentation, chaos, risk and uncertainty. What unites these themes is our way of approaching, interpreting and exploiting them, and this is what we’ve learned on our journey.
Innovation Management is a term that is still very unfamiliar to a lot of people. In fact, most of us on the MA Innovation Management course had uncertainties about what (and how) we were going to learn when beginning the course. Through various activities, such as group projects, readings, writings as well as collaborations with external companies and other departments at CSM, MAIM students go through a dynamic journey full of steep challenges and personal and collective achievements. Although each student has had different perspectives and insights on the processes and theories we have encountered, all of us agree that the numerous experiments, moments of chaos, risks and uncertainties we have shared have enabled us to more successfully exploit creativity and innovation.
Coming from various cultural, academic and professional backgrounds, MAIM cohorts first learn how to utilise internal group dynamics to make the best use of diverse knowledge and ideas. As Goffin & Mitchell (2010) highlight in the book Innovation Management: Strategy and Implementation Using the Pentathlon Framework, innovation requires the amalgamation of different skills and perspectives. And so, we learned to gather as many different thoughts as we could to pinpoint opportunities from our various combinations of ideas.
Although diversity and openness enhances creativity, as we have seen, a balance between flexibility and structure must be established to realise innovation. Therefore, we also did not forget to come back to focus and implement the ideas through controlled experiments in order to achieve our goals and visions. As expected outcomes of experiments cannot always match reality, we often had to take the risk of having unsatisfactory results. Whenever a certain process led us to a very deviant and unexpected direction, we learned to examine what caused the turbulence in order to determine what could be done to solve the challenge at hand and pinpoint any underlying opportunities. Through an iterative process, we were able to generate creative ideas and develop innovative solutions.
As we have witnessed, creativity and innovation cannot be achieved by pure luck; instead they require the careful utilisation of knowledge to make favourable change. Change can be made through collective efforts, by embedding a culture that promotes curiosity, agility, and risk taking. In today’s increasingly diverse, fast changing and uncertain environment, we need to push ourselves to the edge and explore opportunities in order to successfully exploit innovation. Over the course of these past two years the MAIM Class of 2014 has cultivated the ability to turn the collective and seemingly chaotic experience we shared at the beginning of this journey on its head, and used it to identify meaningful opportunities for innovation. This is what we have learned, and from here on out this is what we will do.