This course discusses the basics every manager needs to organize successful technology-driven innovation in both entrepreneurial and established firms. We start by examining innovation-based strategies as a source of competitive advantage and then examine how to build organizations that excel at identifying, building and commercializing technological innovations. Major topics include how the innovation process works; creating an organizational environment that rewards innovation and entrepreneurship; designing appropriate innovation processes (e.g. stage-gate, portfolio management); organizing to take advantage of internal and external sources of innovation; and structuring entrepreneurial and established organizations for effective innovation. The course examines how entrepreneurs can shape their firms so that they continuously build and commercialize valuable innovations. Many of the examples also focus on how established firms can become more entrepreneurial in their approach to innovation.
Technological innovation is increasingly the source of sustainable competitive advantage for firms around the world. However, building an organization to successfully and repeatedly bring technological innovations to market is a daunting managerial challenge. In this course we focus on the practices and processes that managers use to manage innovation effectively. Over the semester we will examine four aspects of technological innovation: exploring, executing, leveraging and renewing innovation. Our focus will be on entrepreneurial firms (new and established) and on firms that have been successful and unsuccessful in their innovation.
15.351 is designed to provide both a deep grounding in the field of technological innovation for managers and entrepreneurs whose goal is to play a leading role in innovation-driven firms. The course combines lectures, case analyses, visiting experts and student presentations. The readings are drawn from research in the management of technological innovation and technology-based entrepreneurship as well as from economics and organizational theory. The cases provide an extensive opportunity to integrate and apply these tools in a practical, business context, and draw from a wide variety of firms and industries: established and entrepreneurial, mainly from high technology and many originating at MIT.
The material moves deliberately between strategic issues (what should you do?) and organizational and managerial issues (how should you get it done?), though the focus of the course is more on examples of process and implementation. The course design is grounded in the belief is that it is particularly dangerous to separate strategy from implementation (the “why” from the “how”) when innovation is the issue because having a great idea is worth little or nothing if a firm cannot figure out how to commercialize or monetize that idea.
Innovation management can include a variety of topics; here are three clarifications about the approach we will take in this course: First, we will approach innovation issues from the entrepreneur and manager’s perspective. While most firms have specialized R&D, other functions must all interface with R&D. Indeed, building an organization that can continuously generate and commercialize innovations is one of the core concerns of top management. Thus any leader should be conversant with the leading thinking on innovation and should not leave this challenge to the R&D function alone. Second, this course will approach the management of innovation from a strategic perspective. As such, we will consider the relationship between processes and structures for innovation in firms, the strategies for exploitation and the environment in which these must be designed e.g., competition, rate of technological change, sources of innovation.
Readings, assignments, and cases will be used to highlight issues and problems that face leaders as they create and implement processes, structures and strategies to strategically manage their technological innovation. By completion of the course, you will have:
To achieve these goals the course is divided into four modules. The first three modules cover the following three areas: exploring, executing and exploiting innovations. The fourth module is renewing innovation and examines how established firms re-energize their exploration, execution and exploitation practices to renew the innovation base of their firm:
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