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Universities & B-Schools Aim to Shape Innovation Leaders of Tomorrow


by Jeremy Bloom

In a recent WSJ article, Sir Andrew Likierman, Dean of the London Business School unveiled the School's plan for a new center devoted  to the study of innovation. In the article, Likierman speaks to the importance of innovation in today's volatile, competitive market and the need for organizations to approach innovation as a process.  (Yes, innovation can be managed just like any other business discipline).

As companies push through recent years’ economic malaise, executives are now laser-focused on developing their organization’s ability to consistently fuel product pipelines with new products, understand business and market opportunities and utilize trends with technologies to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Innovation leaders know that adhering to a uniform innovation process brings about a more sustainable, more productive innovation engine.future innovators

It is not surprising, then, to see top business schools like the London Business School dedicate a center to the study of – not just innovation, in general – but the innovation process. Universities have long focused on innovation and inventive problem solving as part of their engineering curriculums. Now, c-suite executives and the business schools they hail from are likewise making the study of innovation a core offering.

Universities are recognizing the demand for graduates that have studied innovation, successful innovation processes, and effective integration of technologies that enable innovation. As industries look to academia for the next generation of innovators, these skill sets are becoming more and more critical both at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

For nearly 20 years, Invention Machine has been working with global manufacturing companies to bring greater efficiency, uniformity and repeatability to their innovation processes. However, in the past few years, we have noticed a growing demand from universities for these same innovation capabilities – most notably in Asia, where we have seen a marked increase in the demand for innovation software as part of a curriculum dedicated to the study of innovation.

In molding the innovators of tomorrow, universities must teach innovation management and innovation strategies, which should also include teaching the importance of:

  • Accelerating ideation and solution generation by arming innovation workers with relevant knowledge
  • Honing problem solving skill sets via proven innovation tools and methods
  • Promoting collaboration for shared problem solving
  • Leveraging and preserving knowledge to avoid redundancies, repeating past mistakes and re-inventing the wheel