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Syllabus: Designing an Innovation Centered Career

Course title: Designing an Innovation-Centered Career Instructor: Sandra Noonan Course premise: Contemporary tech innovators like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page and Sergey Brin have changed the way we live, work, socialize and transact. Their products have birthed new industries, shaped societies and marked whole generations of people. These remarkable individuals are elite innovators who produce, create, and propel change. Often, their success is attributed to innate genius — they are assumed to be whiz kids who won the genetic lottery. That may be true, but it is not the whole story. Aside from fortuitous genetics, specific conditions produced these individuals. We would be remiss if we did not examine the attitudes, mindsets and behaviors that elite innovators have in common, and how these can be taught in the classroom. The Innovator’s Elixir Elite innovators have a propensity to spot problems that others don’t notice or simply take for granted. They combine that skill with an ability to imagine, develop, and bring to life marketable solutions to the problems that excite them. Together, these skills make up the innovator’s elixir, and help to explain their capacity for outsized value creation. The main premise of this course is that the innovator’s elixir comprises principles, personal values and mindsets that can be studied, broken down, and passed on. This is a hybrid course – part career design, part innovation workshop. Students...

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Avoiding Rookie Time-Wasters in Adobe Analytics

As a web analytics tool, Adobe Analytics is a very different animal from Google Analytics. I’ve learned the hard way that plunging into an Adobe Analytics account for the first time with the expectation that it’ll be as easy to master as Google Analytics is hubris. In this post, I share a handful of tips to make the learning curve less steep. Why is Adobe Analytics More Difficult than GA? Based on my experience, Adobe Analytics (also referred to as Site Catalyst or Omniture) is more frequently used at the enterprise level for large, sophisticated websites (I have seen...

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Can We Teach Value Creation in Schools? (An Expanded Syllabus)

In the age of Google, we need to worry less about imparting information and more about cultivating the cerebral soil in which it’s planted. Students’ minds don’t need to be crammed with content; they need to be primed and wired to create value from the copious amounts of information available to them.

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How to Teach Innovation in School: A Syllabus

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg — these contemporary innovators have altered the way we live and work, given rise to new industries, and defined the future. In short, they’ve changed the world. They also raise an important nature-versus-nurture question: Do you have to be born a world changer? Do you have to win the genetic and parental lottery to create value on the scale that these individuals have? I think a lot of people would say yes, given the lack of any systematic effort by our schools to instill the qualities that members of the elite innovative class possess. This is a shame, because I believe that three of the fundamental traits displayed by elite innovators can be taught: An Eye for Problems: The ability to identify problems worth solving A Solution-Oriented Mindset: The willingness and ability to develop solutions to worthy problems Execution: the capacity to create, and follow through with, those solutions   What Lies Between the Office Drone and the Innovator? More than natural intelligence, it is the lack of these three qualities — the ability to identify problems worth solving, the willingness to develop solutions, and the capacity to execute — that separates ordinary people from superstar innovators. How does this manifest in the real world? Well, most of us give in readily to the frustrations of everyday life, the limitations of current technology and the...

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What Do We Do When Technology Increases Inequality?

Despite Donald Trump’s promises to save factory jobs, the next few years will see the maturation of technologies that compete with blue collar labor. Fighting that fact is a fool’s errand. Consider a few recent developments on the retail and transportation front. Just last week, Amazon announced Amazon Go, a grocery store experience that does away with checkout lines. Yesterday, Google said it had placed its self-driving car business into a dedicated company called Waymo, marking another step toward the commercialization of autonomous vehicles. Neither check-out free shopping nor self-driving vehicles have achieved commercial scale yet, but when they do, they’ll threaten certain jobs — like cashiers and cab drivers. Resisting technologies like these is a waste of time — and a distraction from the task of adapting our workforce and educational system to the new reality they herald. (Technology creates jobs, too, of course, but there’s evidence this is happening less consistently.) Kids have gotten used to hearing that the jobs they’ll do as adults haven’t even been invented yet. But are they also used to hearing that their not-yet-invented jobs may also disappear within the course of their lifetimes, rendered obsolete by new technologies? Are they equipped for that kind of change? Artificial Intelligence and White Collar Jobs White-collar jobs aren’t necessarily safe, either. In an interview this week, Jack Clark, a researcher at Open AI, alluded to the potential for artificial...

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3 Reminders about Innovation from Amazon Go

Amazon has unveiled Amazon Go, a shopping experience that dispenses with cash registers and checkout stations. At Amazon Go stores, shoppers simply take things from the shelves, put them in their bags, and walk out, bypassing checkout lines entirely. The underlying technology, at least four years in the making, is a combination of “computer vision, deep learning algorithms and sensor fusion,” similar to what is found in self-driving cars, Amazon says. Amazon Go illustrates, in thrilling fashion, three rules of the innovator’s mindset: 1. Find the invisible middleman. Identify the middleman everyone takes for granted — in this case, cash registers —...

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Idea #10: Write a TV Show about Colonizing Mars

What would we do if given a fresh planetary start? Who would the colonizers be and what kind of society would they try to create? What sort of contact would they have with people back on Earth? How would environmental constraints shape their way of life? What political system would emerge on the Red Planet? What cultural pursuits? Would the landscape of Mars crush the human spirit or amplify it? What pressures would the colonizers face from their sponsors back on Earth, assuming they had any? Would some people fare better than others on Mars? Would it become a penal colony, a vacation spot, a refuge for outcasts, or a destination for eccentrics, adventurers or mad scientists? ← Idea #9: National Connect In Person Day A Business-Friendly Definition of Design...

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Idea #9: National Connect In Person Day

If society is willing to embrace National Cat Day, National Sibling Day and National Doughnut Day (next one’s in June 2017!), then why not a National Connect in Person Day?

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What Comes After LinkedIn?

LinkedIn was innovative 15 years ago, but today it falls short as a career management tool. The professional social networking site of tomorrow needs a fundamentally different value proposition.

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