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Teaching Innovation - Part III

| On 10, Nov 2010

Praveen Gupta

There is a global desire to exploit innovation for gaining competitive advantage, and a significant effort to deploy innovation without knowing how to. Most business colleges are still pursuing entrepreneurship programs without much education in innovation. Recognition of need to teach innovation is becoming apparent but slowly. I am surprised that more academic and corporate resources have not been allocated to developing teachable innovation concepts, method, tools, measurements and management.


I have been teaching innovation for about five years. Ed Coates a Master Business Innovator will start teaching a course on innovation in healthcare in Pennsylvania. A university on West Coast killed the whole concept of innovation center before the course could even start. A couple of community colleges are also teaching Business Innovation course. I sense that activities for teaching innovation increasing however not sufficient action taken to make any visible impact.


European Union (EU) has recently released a report on Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative, Innovation Union. The report highlights need for getting more innovation out of its research. Innovation Union has made some commitments such as by the end of 2011, Members States should have strategies in place to train enough researchers to meet their national R&D targets. It still appears that there is a lack of resources committed to understand how the innovation works, or advancing science and engineering of innovation. In absence of a clear understanding of the innovation process, strategies are just a text.


I believe teaching or learning innovation must be the first action item to initiate any innovation journey by any organization, including a national or EU like Government. Without education in innovation it is like driving a car without learning how to drive and the driver’s license. The risk of accidents is very high.


It is time we recognize that the right way to deploy innovation must be through education in innovation in addition to education in math, science, technology and engineering. We must recognize the paradigm that innovation is a learned skill, not a gift to some! Everyone can become a better and faster innovator through education, practice and networking.


I would love to hear what is your organization doing about educating employees in innovation in order to accelerate and sustain profitable growth and create jobs.