Current Students

DSGN 431: Innovation Frontiers


In this class, students learn the emerging principles of innovation as a science so they can approach the unfamiliar with a new level of curiosity, confidence, and courage. The course teaches how to deconstruct anything innovative — from Apple’s iPhone to YouTube to Wii — and how to assess the structural causes of innovation success … or failure.

For example, students discover how and why India and China are breeding grounds for entirely new innovation frontiers in order to understand why Lasik eye surgery can be profitable in India at $10 per eye (vs. $1,200 in the U.S.) and how the seventh richest man in China got that way manufacturing solar cell arrays to produce sustainable electricity.

Key Learning Takeaways

  • Master disruptive innovation as a discipline
  • Move beyond myths of innovation to real innovation practices that are effective
  • Manage innovation, whether as an entrepreneur or inside a large scale enterprise, to drive effective outcomes between 10 and 20 times better than global norms
  • Diagnose innovation issues and challenges so that you know where, when, and how to plug in the innovation capabilities that matter most
  • Select and use a wide array of useful ethno-methodologies to produce distinctive insights suitable for breakthrough innovation
  • Select and use various data and predictive analytics to systematically understand how a category, industry, or firm is changing, or should change
  • Conceive and plan future business ecosystems that work more like iTunes Store, Alibaba, Airbnb or Uber to organize and orchestrate connected firms serving users
  • Seamlessly move between analysis and synthesis so that, working in a team, you author a single bold breakthrough innovation during the course
  • De-risk bold innovation concepts and build deep innovation execution plans
  • Present your concept professionally so that it will be credible and understandable

Key Tactical Tools

  • Diagnostic tools that make innovation conditions objective and clear
  • Innovation metrics systems so you understand how to assess and measure innovation
  • High protocol platform authoring tools so that your team develops a small number of big ideas, instead of brainstorming hundreds of ideas that are abandoned
  • Innovation Tactics Cards so your team knows explicitly how to build and execute the breakthrough you have authored
  • Deep tools to help time stage your concept anticipating how it will need to evolve
  • Specific systems for building breakthrough business and service models, not just technological offerings, so that your concepts have the power to change categories


Open to MMM students only.

Quarter Offered


DSGN 431 Innovation Frontiers
Meets Mondays 8:30-11:30am in ITW Classroom, Ford 1.350
Instructor: Larry Keeley

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