Module Note | March 2006

Managing Innovation in an Uncertain World: Module 3: Expanding Diversity

by Alan D. MacCormack

Abstract

Describes the third module of the 30-session Harvard Business School elective course Managing Innovation in an Uncertain World. The course helps students understand the challenges that uncertainty implies for innovation and how to overcome them. The course emphasizes multiple levels of analysis--from creating and executing development projects to building and balancing portfolios of projects to assessing and selecting future opportunities for development--showing how to align these activities to face uncertainties and take advantage of the opportunities they present. Allows students to respond the situations from multiple perspectives and assume different roles--from project manager to CEO--to appreciate how various organizational roles themselves reflect these perspectives. The third module, Expanding Diversity, exposes students to several perspectives and associated techniques by which organizations identify new dimensions along which innovation is possible. Rather than adopt a single best practice approach for this endeavor, the module emphasizes, organizations much acknowledge an array of techniques, each of which provides a different lens through which to view opportunities. The module thus resolves a seeming paradox: By embracing greater variation in the processes that an organization uses to explore new innovation possibilities, the landscape that results appears less unpredictable. The materials introduce several structured techniques through which managers can exercise their cognitive abilities to perceive new possibilities, expanding the opportunities available to them.

Keywords: Innovation and Management; Business Processes; Projects; Risk and Uncertainty; Product Development; Managerial Roles; Opportunities; Perspective; Expansion; Goals and Objectives;

Citation:

MacCormack, Alan D. "Managing Innovation in an Uncertain World: Module 3: Expanding Diversity." Harvard Business School Module Note 606-126, March 2006.