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Innovation as a Learning Process – My experience with Haas@Work September 23, 2009

Posted by Ornwassa Siamseranee in Design Thinking.

The reading on Innovation as a Learning Process made me reflect on my experience in joining Haas@Work program last spring. Haas@Work is a program that provides Haas MBAs an opportunity to work in teams to generate and implement innovations in actual companies. Past projects included working for leading companies like Cisco, Disney, Wells Fargo, etc. It is a great experiential learning opportunity and an essential element in achieving Haas’ main objective in developing Haas MBAs to “lead through innovation”.

The overall process lasted about a month, and it involved a series of workshops. In the first workshop, we were instructed in the process we would use in generating ideas and coming up with recommendations for the client. The process is called “Innovation Cycle”, and it is the same process described in the reading – Observations, Frameworks, Imperatives, and Solutions.

Due to limited time, however, the process was not explained much in detail and we jumped right into the actual practice. Therefore, I personally had very limited knowledge about the process, which made me question its effectiveness. Although in the end the process proved to be effective as our group eventually came up with decent recommendations and the client was very pleased with our deliverables, the initial doubt about the process decreased my morale a little bit. This is one of the areas where I felt that Haas@Work program could improve on by giving participants more knowledge about the process so we know how to apply it in the most effective way.

Also, the reading suggested that people with different learning styles would perform well in different steps. The knowledge of which type of learning style each team member has would be useful as it would help in the team formation, as well as help everyone to know where they stand in the team and how they can best contribute by leveraging what they do best. For me, I feel that I learn best through logical reasoning, or as called “assimilating style”. If I knew this before I joined the workshop, I would contribute more during the Frameworks step (Haas@Work calls this step “Insights”). Also, the team could be organized in such a way that people who are best at each step should lead the discussion in that step. This will allow the leader to guide the team by using more effective method in achieving the results of that step as he/she knows best how to perform that step.

After I read this article, I understood more about this so called Innovation Cycle and the reasoning behind each stage. I rethought through my experience in Haas@Work and more appreciated the well-structured process that the program used. With better understanding in the process, I can use the process more effectively to generate ideas and implement innovation creation in my future career.



1. Sara Beckman - November 28, 2009

You raise an interesting question about how best to learn “design thinking.” Should you try to teach the process intellectually first, or should you just throw people into it and see what sticks?

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