Leading Innovative Ventures
Course Number 2030
Associate Professor Mary Tripsas
Winter, 20 Sessions
This course is intended for students interested in launching a venture in a novel, innovative industry context -- either as a start-up or a corporate venture. It should also appeal to students interested in venture capital/private equity, consulting, or general management in innovation-driven industries.
Entrepreneurial opportunities often exist when industries are either created or transformed by innovation: new products, new business models, and/or new technologies. The pursuit of these opportunities, however, creates challenges for both start-ups and established firms. This course introduces a set of conceptual frameworks and tools that help students to identify, evaluate, and manage innovative ventures. Like the RC Entrepreneurial Manager course, this course integrates concepts from multiple domains including strategy, marketing, operations and organization behavior.
Course Content and Organization
The course examines innovative ventures with both an external and internal lens. The first two modules focus outside the firm on the challenges of shaping new categories and new industries, and the third module looks inside the firm at organizational challenges. We will explore a range of novel contexts/categories including: folding bicycles, bidet-toilets, online Indian art auctions, aviation (e.g. jet taxis), electronic publishing (eBooks), fashion, digital imaging, and clean energy.
- Innovation in established industries
We begin by examining the challenges of introducing innovative products/services in established industries. How should a firm position and market its product to increase awareness and trial? What consumer beliefs, biases, and behaviors must be changed to encourage adoption, and how? Should a firm attempt to create a new category, or associate itself with an existing category? What are the trade-offs associated with these different positionings?
- Shaping industry evolution
We next evaluate broader patterns of industry and ecosystem evolution, with a focus on proactively shaping an emerging industry early in its life cycle. How can firms influence customer perceptions of new products, the structure of the ecosystem, and the institutional environment (e.g. regulators, trade associations, and standards)? How do analogies influence the way individuals make sense of novel products? How can firms influence the analogies formed? How can a firm create incentives for complementary producers in the ecosystem to support its products / standards and overall industry vision?
- Leading Organizational Renewal
Finally we examine the internal organizational challenges inherent in leading innovative ventures, with an emphasis on successfully exploiting a core business while at the same time exploring new domains. How can a start-up move beyond its initial product / customers and grow successfully? Why is it so difficult for established firms to be entrepreneurial? What are the cognitive and behavioral sources of inertia and bias, and what organizational levers can help to overcome them? How can firms simultaneously drive both incremental and radical innovation? What is the role of the senior team?