Be the Innovator
When members of the first-year class traveled to Japan and Costa Rica (among other destinations) in January, it was far from a vacation. Not only did they follow a packed itinerary of meetings with business and civic leaders, but they were already preparing for their first assignment of the spring term.
For the Innovator course – one of the new Yale SOM core classes, which focuses on a manager’s role in fostering the flow of new ideas, products, and services – students were asked to leverage their travel experience to produce an innovative business idea.
The assignment itself read:
“During your trip, or afterwards, identify a few objects or practices you observed or experiences you had that strike you as especially interesting and fascinating.
“Something interesting inevitably has an element of novelty. Now, drawing upon one specific object/experience you’ve identified, try to pinpoint exactly what makes it novel – the specific attributes or circumstances. This is all about close observation and perception.
“Once you do that, bring the object/experience back to the U.S. or your home country environment. Thinking about it in this environment, what ideas come to mind? Can you leverage it for a creative business, cultural, or socially responsible idea?”
Below is some of the work that resulted:
Trip: South Africa/ Tanzania
Idea: Introduction of “bank in a box” to Brazilian favellas.
Idea: A new kind of human resources consultancy.
Idea: Increased use of “urban biological interactions."
Idea: A keyed energy system for U.S. homes.
Trip: England/ Poland
Idea: Handheld electronic cashiers.
Idea: Better hand dryers.