Innovation: From Creativity to Entrepreneurship

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In a world characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, leaders require innovation skills. Thinking flexibly and developing an entrepreneurial mindset are critical to thriving in uncertain business environments. This specialization addresses how to recognize and question assumptions and constraints so as to identify and capitalize on opportunities. Innovation is needed within existing organizations and to found new organizations. Learning to change the rules of the game by creating innovative value propositions and discovering new market positions for sustained competitive advantage are some of the actionable lessons in this specialization.

This specialization will be of value to both aspiring and practicing entrepreneurs as well as employees in established firms who are interested in becoming innovative leaders in an interconnected world.

Learning outcomes

  • Develop an entrepreneurial mindset
  • Understand how to manage and innovate in uncertainty
  • Understand when, why, and how to think creatively
  • Assess the feasibility of a new venture and the diversity of challenges involved


This course has two components

Strategic Innovation: Building and Sustaining Innovative Organizations

Innovation strategy is about creating unique value for consumers by delivering a great product that satisfies their needs and capturing value back from consumers.

At the core of a successful innovation strategy is a great product concept. Product is an all-encompassing term that includes physical goods, intangible services, and even ideas. There are the three pillars to a successful product strategy: a clear understanding of (a) the target customers (WHO), (b) the specific elements of the product offering (WHAT) that satisfies consumer needs and dovetails with company capabilities, and (c) the tactical plans to reach end consumers (HOW).  But well-laid innovation plans can go awry without a consideration of the business ecosystem that includes collaborators including suppliers, distributors, and retailers, or the contextual environment in which the company operates.  In an interdependent world, fostering an integrated ecosystem is critically important for companies interested in maximizing the odds of innovation success.

Drawing from many years of research, this course will offer a set of frameworks, tools, and concepts in order to develop innovative strategies in a holistic way so as to achieve leadership positions.

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Design appropriate value propositions forthe target consumer segments;
  • Leverage the understanding of the industry context in the development of innovative strategies;
  • Develop a winning product combination that aligns company capabilities with consumer expectations; and
  • Ensure a win-win-win strategy for the company, consumers, and the ecosystem by mapping the company’s offeringswithin the broader business ecosystem in order to ensure that the integrated system delivers unique and differentiated value to consumers.

Strategic Innovation:  Innovation at the Frontier: An Exploration of Cutting-Edge Topics

In his influential book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, Professor Clayton Christensen, introduced the term disruption to the popular lexicon. Disruption refers to the failure of well-managed firms to succeed when faced with technological change associated with disruptive technologies, i.e. technologies that are inferior in the beginning but get better soon enough to precipitate the failure of entrenched firms. The very practices that made incumbent firms successful in managing sustaining technologies may actually prove to be debilitating while managing disruptive technologies.

Drawing from many of collective research in disruptions, this course will offer a set of frameworks, tools, and concepts in order to manage the unique challenges and develop innovative strategies while managing disruptive innovations so as to achieve leadership positions.

Upon successful completion of this course, you will:

  • Understand the concept of disruption
  • Develop a framework to manage disruptive innovations
  • Understand how a company can move from being a pipeline company to a platform company
  • Learn about cutting edge topics in innovation such as crowdsourcing, open innovations and user innovations.

This course has two components

The Creativity Toolkit: Changing Perspectives

Thinking and doing the same things faster and better is not enough, we need creativity. Fortunately, creativity is a skill you can learn. This course will examine when, why, and how we can be creative. It examines the cues that trigger us to consider being creative. It provides a roadmap of the creative process—the process of changing our perspectives—and the kinds of outcomes that result from creativity. It examines how we can go through the creative process more efficiently and more effectively through examining what is changing about our thinking and how we can make those changes. The end result is more flexible thinking that can be used to recognize and develop new opportunities.

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Initiate creativity more frequently
  • Progress through the creative process more systematically
  • Generate more and better product ideas

The Creativity Toolkit: Creative Collaboration

Creativity requires us to collaborate with others. This course is designed to make you a better creative collaborator. Creativity can require us to bring together knowledge from different areas, often known by different people. We need to foster effective collaboration rather than have those differences lead to misunderstandings and conflict. The ideas that we generate, individually or collectively, will be evaluated by others, such as bosses, funders, and customers. These different audiences likely have different concerns when they hear about your ideas and are likely to evaluate ideas differently than you do. We need to pitch our ideas in ways that get others get excited about them rather than bored or confused by them so that we can expand the group of collaborators in our creative efforts.

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand how to work effectively with other people to generate creative ideas
  • Understand how others might perceive and evaluate your ideas
  • Understand how to pitch creative ideas so that audiences are more likely to accept them

More details available soon-

The two components of the course involve Entrepreneurship in stages:


This component provides an understanding of the rich diversity of challenges that confront those creating new enterprises, whether a venture of one’s own or within a larger organization. Moving from an idea into a viable business creates its own set of challenges: From recognizing opportunity and assessing its viability to creating a business plan and financing the new venture.

Managing venture growth

This component provides insights into another set of challenges and opportunities entrepreneurs face  once a new venture picks up. Students will learn about managing growth while considering business models and cash issues, building the team with organizational and managerial issues.

Students will be exposed to leading authors in the field and to “live cases” (real entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs). This course draws on students’ collective learning experiences. Students learn to carefully assess the feasibility of a new venture in a VUCA world and learn to judge their own unique capacity for engaging in entre- and/or intrapreneurship.

The capstone for the specialization will provide a learning experience that integrates across all the courses within it. It will involve analysis of a situation concerning a new enterprise – a venture of one’s own or within a larger organization – to develop the current business model and compare against alternative business models so as to identify potential opportunities and challenges. Students will analyze the business model including the value proposition, revenue model, resources, and capabilities, taking the vantage point of the enterprise and develop a plan for a specific geography (chosen by students’ region or country of residence, or other consideration).

The entrepreneurship and strategic innovation plans will be peer reviewed in a crowd-sourcing format as part of a poster session, with participation by one or more focal companies. The deliverable will be designed to create value from the perspective of potential employers while achieving pedagogical and experiential goals for learners. Learner assessment for the capstone will include quizzes as well as peer reviews of capstone projects.


He is an associate professor of business administration. His research examines how people generate, learn, and apply knowledge, primarily through studying analogy, categories, and vocabularies. His work provides guidance for negotiating, making decisions, communicating, and working together more effectively. A prolific author, he has published extensively and won awards such as the EGOS Conference Best Subtheme Paper, Most Downloaded Article of the Year in Cognitive Science, and numerous grants for his excellence in research. He received his PhD from Northwestern University and taught previously at the Kellogg School of Management, Columbia Business School, and The University of Texas at Austin.
Jack Goncalo is an associate professor of business administration. He received his Ph.D. in Business Administration in 2004, an M.S. in Organizational Behavior in 2001 and a B.A. in Psychology in 1999, all from the University of California at Berkeley . He conducts research on group processes and performance, particularly group creativity and the quality of group decision making. Although most research in Organizational Behavior emphasizes the value of being a “team player” his research suggests that in order to spark creativity, organizations should emphasize individualistic norms and individual achievement. He co-edited the book Research on Managing Groups and Teams: Creativity in Groups (vol. 12). His research has been published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Management Science, Psychological Science, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. It has also been featured on CNN, Businessweek, The Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report, Fast Company and Fortune.
Janet Bercovitz is an associate professor in the Department of Business Administration.  She holds a B.S. degree in chemistry, and MBA, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.  Professor Bercovitz’s primary research interest is in the economics of organization with a focus on organizational structure and contractual relationships.  Current projects explore the organization of university-industry technology transfer, the relationship-contract link in sponsored research projects and the structure of business-format franchise agreements.  Her articles appear in journals such as Management ScienceOrganization Science, Research Policy, Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Industrial Ecology, and the Journal of Technology Transfer.

Professor Bercovitz teaches business courses in both entrepreneurship and strategy at the undergraduate, graduate and executive level.  Before attending graduate school, She worked as a chemist for American Pharmaseal, a division of Baxter Travenol, and as a market analyst and consultant for Technology Forecasters. After receiving her Ph.D., she taught in the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University before joining the UIUC in 2005.