Hear how Executive MBA participant Chris Royce was able to implement his learning from the 'Innovation and Creativity in Organisations' module directly back into his organisation.
As Head of Engineering, I have a great deal of autonomy, meaning I'm fortunate enough to be able to implement my MBA learnings throughout my organisation. Each module on the programme covers theory and practical frameworks via group work and individual assignments, which I have then applied to many business challenges.
One such challenge I came across was how to drive innovation in my department when developing our products to grow our range and market share. Working with our sales executive, I created an agenda and scheduled an offsite innovation day to see what we could come up with.
A week later, just a few days before our organisation offsite (great timing!), the first part of the Innovation and Creativity module took place. Going into The Shard and taking my seat, I felt excited about the tools and techniques I would be able to take back and implement.
With James Hayton taking the stage and presenting the outline for the course, including guest speakers and nearly a dozen case studies for discussion. I knew this module was destined to be a good one, and I find the combination of speakers and case studies, really grounds the academic theory, enabling me to apply the tools successfully in my own organisation.
Whilst attending lectures, I always keep a separate notebook to jot down ideas as they come to me on how I can apply the presented material to my organisation. As the day concluded, I went through three pages of ideas and had re-written the agenda for my innovation day twice! Like many software engineering companies, we are sometimes guilty of getting carried away with the technology then trying to find a problem to solve with it. My new agenda now started with defining our users' problems and pain points, then we would come up with ways to solve them.
Day two of the innovation module was just as insightful as the first. We explored the market opportunity navigator, which was really useful, especially as within my organisation, we often look at creating new products from scratch (after all, who doesn't like an excuse to use a new technology stack). However, by breaking down core components and competencies, many products can be assembled relatively quickly to address customers' challenges. So I updated my agenda once more to ensure we focused on these types of innovations, hoping we would come up with some quick wins on the day.
Finally, the day of my organisation's offsite came around. Feeling excited, I stood at the front to present the agenda we would be following and outlined a few ground rules that foster psychological safety and creativity (inspired by one of the lecture's case studies). By lunch, we had identified over 30 challenges our customers face and listed over 50 core components and competencies that we have; these would form our ingredients for the solutions we would come up with later. By the end of the day, we had come up with 20 products that we could assemble in a matter of weeks, not months, that could solve some of the problems we had identified that morning. Not only was the day highly productive, it was also highly enjoyable, the ideas were flowing, we had post-its, whiteboard markers and crayons, and the energy was invigorating; I don't think anyone sat down the whole day!
Next we will be sharing our ideas with current and potential customers to gather feedback before starting work on producing an MVP. Good news travels fast, and word spread of the off site’s success, so much so that the parent company has asked me to share the methods I employed with the other business units across Europe. I have every confidence they too will find many potential products that can be assembled with relatively minimal effort.
The following weekend, back at The Shard, I shared my results with James at the start of the next lecture before taking a seat, excited about what I would be writing next in my ideas notebook.