Introduction

This project pursues one objective: mobilizing capabilities and enable learning of innovation in teams, regardless of their geographic location, or socio-economic context? Its origins were motivated by Dr. Carlos Osorio's experience as doctoral student at MIT's Engineering Systems Division, and visiting scientist at MIT Medialab. The underlying idea was “cracking the code” for enabling people to innovate in consistent and predictable ways.

Thus, the project is based on three dimensions: (i) understanding the process of learning in high uncertainty, ambiguity and risky environments, (ii) discovering insights for empowering people to achieve what seems impossible, and (iii) generating a variety of instructional designs associated with the same curriculum material (for different audiences, and varied levels of impact achievement). As result, Dr. Osorio has designed and continuously refined a method for enabling learning (very different from teaching) of innovation. He created a Master in Innovation (MI), a one-week curriculum for undergraduates that produces better results than full-term courses, as well as MBAs and ExecEd courses, and firm-centered action learning experiments.

Results have surpassed our expectations: 81% of our students’ MI theses have raised an average of $360.000 in funding during their developments. From all theses, 51% have become startups, 30% corporate ventures, and 19% are celebrated failures. All successes, however, are replete of failures on their way, living by the motto of failing as soon, as frequent, as fast and as cheap as possible. Many of our students have become serial entrepreneurs, and are recognized among national leaders on innovation. At the undergraduate level, the one-week full-immersion so-called innovation “hellcamp” has become more effective, engaging and demanded than full semester courses.

In order to test its applicability outside academic environments, results from experiments with firms in different countries have also exceeded expectations, producing national innovation awards, and autonomous innovation teams in 5 months.

Synopsis

Objective

I started this project on enabling innovation learning to (i) test the general hypothesis that -under certain conditions- people anywhere in the World could learn how to innovate in consistent and predictable manners, and (ii) find out which are these conditions. Later, a third objective was added: (iii) to design a competency-based assessment learning process for enabling innovation, and empower normal people to achieve extraordinary results.

Since its beginnings in 2006, this project's general objectives have been (i) to discover the best possible ways for enabling innovation learning and training autonomous innovation teams, and (ii) to design, test and refine various types of learning experiences (instructional designs) in order to achieve the best possible results in different contexts and settings (understanding results as measured by the performance of our students in creating innovations).

For this purpose, we understand innovation both as a result and a process. As a result, we define an innovation as anything new or a non-trivial change in a combination of product, service, process, business model, etc. that generates value for a market, and payback for the organization, or team innovating. As a process, we define it as the combination of stages, methods, mindsets, decisions and routines that help a team to manage the natural and inherent high levels of chaos, uncertainty, ambiguity and risk for creating an innovation for a solving a challenge.

Approach

The overall approach has been building up from academic and professional findings from various sources, and testing the following six overall hypotheses over the years:

1. Process and methods: teams using more adequate process and methods for their challenge, have a higher chance of success in creating an innovation
2. Decision-making: teams using better decision-making mechanisms would exhibit better results
3. Mindsets: teams able to tune the right mindset-stage combination have a higher likelihood of success
4. Cognition: teams capable of minimizing the effect of cognitive biases on problem understanding and representations have a higher likelihood of success
5. Tasks and milestones: Teams following a clear path of milestones and goal-oriented tasks could better tune mindsets, better manage cognitive biases, and exhibit better results
6. Emotional reactions to high risk, uncertainty and ambiguity: teams with better reactions to high levels of uncertainty, ambiguity, and risk exhibit better results

During the process I have designed a general innovation process, as well as a training protocol, both of which has been tested and refined over the years.

Starting from the initial experimental course designed and taught in 2007, there have been more than 30 experiments at different levels with (i) undergraduate students, (ii) MBA students, (iii) master in innovation (MI) students, (iv) executive education participants, and (v) corporate teams undergoing action research in Chile, Spain, Colombia, the United States, Brazil, Peru, Belgium. This included creating a master in innovation program, as well as an action research laboratory and running for 5 years. Now all this is coordinated from the umbrella organization h2i, which stands for how to innovate.

After almost eight years of experimentation, we have reached solid answers about the many dynamics among these issues, and are of writing the academic papers. Part of this includes identifying major differences between successes and failures, and identifying 14 problems common mistakes during innovation projects, and how to solve them.

Engagament

Innovation is a social phenomenon; so we focus at the organization, team and personal level. We monitor participants by engaging each person's intellect, body and emotions through intensive thinking, doing and training for coping with high uncertainty, and intensive team-work. Engagement is intensively challenge-oriented in all three dimensions (see videos at supplementary materials).

Some quotes from participants are:
"Thanks for the fantastic learning experience! It was incredibly powerful from a technical and emotional perspective" Liliya Ramasiuk, Belarus.

"A huge THANK YOU to you on taking us on this journey of discovery and active learning. In a very real sense I am already doing my best not to jump to ideas and solutions and trying my best to understand needs and the reasons behind them. Thank you for providing the reference tools so that I can go back and check things out when I get stuck" Adam Ferguson, UK

"An experiential demonstration of how the tangible outcomes of a creative process begin in the field through empathy and the immersive and iterative exploration of needs. Revolutionary ideas then result from synergizing/compounding the insights from these iterations in a diverse team environment. It is a week of exhaustive emotional and mental immersion into a process of realizable innovation = creativity generating value" Crys Vanier, Canada

"I have realized how much innovation is about managing our emotions, as much as knowing how to use processes and methods. The greatest findings of all have been discovering how "a treasure" is hidden in how we connect with the humanity behind each challenge. Focusing on people, through iterative contact aiming for finding the deepest incoherence and imbalances among their dreams, feelings and daily lives to discover the many opportunities that are hidden in that space. This has not been only a lesson on innovation, but on life." Juan Carlos Espada, Spain.

Impact

As measured by methodology development: I have identified 14 competencies and 10 "thinking habits" and "doing routines" to be mobilized during innovation training, mapped to different tasks and milestones, and have designed methods and assessment tools for monitoring action-based learning.

As measured by participants and students' impact: students from MI's first 5 cohorts have produced 37 team-based theses, raising US$11 millions in funding, getting 15 patents, starting up 19 new firms, and 11 new corporate ventures. One alumnus took the process I developed, and created a firm around it -Innovaxxion- which now is the second largest patenting firm in Chile. The average return on investment for MI students' tuition is 500%, as measured only by the funding to their theses. The MI was considered among the World's topten master programs in innovation in 2014 by Innovation Management (Sweden)

As measured by learning time and team autonomy: the full-immersion one week undergraduate course increased learning and competency mobilization, while reducing effective training time and multiplying by three its efficiency. Also, by focusing on cognition and competency-based assessment, we reduced the effect of cognitive biases during innovation processes, and increased intrinsic motivation.

Based on results from experiments on the effects of methods for enhancing cognition and improving emotional coping to high uncertainty, ambiguity and risk environments, I created a 5-month blended-learning executive education program for training autonomous innovation teams. A first experiment was done with Bancolombia, Colombia's largest bank, for training its innovation team. Also, Arauco, a major global Chilean-based firm with no previous innovation capability, after one of the first experimentation rounds received the Chilean National Innovation Award for some results from an older-version this program.

In November 2014, we were featured by AACSB's BizEd magazine along with Wharton and Stanford, among the leaders in making innovation learning happen (http://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/406930-novdec2014/30).

Next Steps

The next step for this project is to make available the findings, processes, methodologies and tools at a global scale. The availability of innovation and design thinking sites has increased exponentially during the last years, but its quality is disturbingly low. Most plaftorms share common problems (i) lack of depth on the methods available for people to use, (ii) dependency from the firm or school that make these methods available and /or, when depth is available (ii) there is a cost for accessing and using methods and processes.

For this reason, we'd developing an innovation learning and monitoring platform, so professors, teachers and people around the World can have access to (a) the project's action-oriented findings and results, as well as process, methods, thinking and doing routines, (b) class syllabus for different instructional designs to empower people's learning, and creating impact by doing, and (c) guidelines for designing and carrying our their own projects. This will become available at www.defi2.cc by beginning of 2017.

For this purpose, I have teamed-up with Dis&Play (http://dis-play.cl/), a design studio specialized on didactic material and deep learning environments to create, outside the university, a creative-commons platform that will be available in both Spanish and English by June 2016. We have been awarded a US$70,000 grant from the Chilean government . Along with Dis&Play we are looking into extending this methods into early childhood, primary and secondary school environments over the World. For more information please contact cosoriou@h2i.cc.

Other Information

PDF - Click to download
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Other - Top 10 Masters in Innovation Management Worldwide
YouTube Video - 2015 Undergraduate Full-Immersion Innovation Workshop
YouTube Video - Arauco's First Innovation Expo - powered by our methodology
YouTube Video - The Art of Failing (In Spanish)
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