Managing Innovation - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Managing Innovation

Course Number 2140

Assistant Professor Karim Lakhani
Winter, 20 Sessions
Paper
Enrollment limited to 60 students per section

Course Requirements

Full Course: Managing Innovation (FC: MI) earns 3 credits and requires classroom attendance (20 Sessions) as well as the completion of a team project that unfolds during the Winter Term.

Career Focus

The course is intended for a broad range of business careers in which innovation is critical to the development of new products and services, e.g., . entrepreneurial start-ups, management consulting, and senior positions in R&D, marketing or strategic planning. Because product and service development is fundamental to the management of organic growth, the demand for MBA students with course work in this field has generally been very high. We will focus on the tools, techniques and concepts necessary to the design, development, and management of innovation processes in product and service-based businesses.

Educational Objectives

Managing Innovation (MI) introduces you to the critical elements of designing and developing innovative products and services, how these can be configured, and how the results are managed. These elements include the pivotal roles played by experimentation, prototyping, and learning; product/service development process design and improvement; the understanding and integration of customer needs; development strategy and project management; and the powerful challenge of designing and managing development networks. Along the way you will encounter many of the best management practices, tools, and frameworks currently in use as well as new approaches just now being deployed.

The course materials intentionally cuts across functional boundaries, for the focus is squarely on the managerial skills and capabilities needed for effective practice. So while many situations you encounter emphasize the role of (new) technology, you will approach these as a manager, not as a technologist. If you happen to be a technologist, however, the managerial perspective will be enriching! But it's important to note that this managerial perspective is not undifferentiated. Depending on the situation, you will be assuming the role of team manager, project manager, functional manager, general manager, or CEO. This array of roles suggests how fundamental innovation is to firms at every level, and how excellence in its management is critical to competitiveness. No longer an issue solely for in-house R&D departments, product and service development has become the focal point of the entire organization.

Specifically, MI will help you learn:

  • How experimentation, learning, and prototyping are fundamental to innovation and fuel the development and improvement of products and services, processes, and systems.
  • How to design and manage development systems that maximize learning.
  • How to integrate customers and new technologies into product development processes.
  • How to design, build, and manage development networks and communities of innovators.

Course Content and Organization

The course is divided into three major modules:

  • Module 1: Design Thinking: Why innovation matters;
  • Module 2: Sources of Innovation: Where new products and services come from;
  • Module 3: Challenges in Managing Innovation: Technology, organization and change.

The learning, from the cases, readings, guests and from class discussion is cumulative. That is, each session introduces new ideas, while reinforcing the topics you've debated in previous sessions. In this way, even though you will be plunged into what may look like amazingly different circumstances, in fact you are encountering best practices that cut across all situations. By the end of the course, you will be able to see these commonalities and discuss them cogently.

Project

The purpose of the project is to give students a hands-on experience in designing an innovation approach to a major issue facing an organization. Student teams will work closely with staff from sponsoring organization to identify issues and opportunities. Teams will prepare a report and presentation to the executives of the organization.

The learning, from the cases, readings, guests and from class discussion is cumulative. That is, each session introduces new ideas, while reinforcing the topics you've debated in previous sessions. In this way, even though you will be plunged into what may look like amazingly different circumstances, in fact you are encountering best practices that cut across all situations. By the end of the course, you will be able to see these commonalities and discuss them cogently.