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2013/2014  KAN-CM_J31  Flash-of-genius: From creative insight to successful innovation

English Title
Flash-of-genius: From creative insight to successful innovation

Course information

Language English
Exam ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course period Autumn
Changes in course schedule may occur
Wednesday 08.00-10.35, week 36-41, 43-47
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Lee Davis - Department of Innovation and Organizational Economics (INO)
Main academic disciplines
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship
Last updated on 10-04-2013
Learning objectives
After completing this course, students should demonstrate that they can:
  • Recognize the management challenges that arise at each stage of of the innovative process from the “flash of genius” to successful commercialization
  • Apply different theories and concepts in strategic analysis of concrete company cases
  • Discuss legal problems that may arise in attempting to protect and promote a firm’s innovation strategy
  • Critically assess the scope, limits and complementarities of applying the theories, concepts and principles to issues covered in the course
Course prerequisites
The course is open to students from all CBS masters programs
4 hour written open book exam:
Examination form Written sit-in exam
Individual or group exam Individual
Assignment type Written assignment
Duration 4 hours
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Autumn Term
Aids allowed to bring to the exam Limited aids, see the list below and the exam plan/guidelines for further information:
  • Aids to be decided
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
If the number of registered candidates for the make-up examination/re-take examination warrants that it may most appropriately be held as an oral examination, the programme office will inform the students that the make-up examination/re-take examination will be held as an oral examination instead.
Course content and structure

The creative flash-of-genius has always been central to the innovation process. Consider the following examples, which led to billion dollar businesses:

  • Post-It Notes: 3M chemical engineer Art Fry was searching for applications for a weak adhesive developed in his company. He also sang in the local church choir. Irritated that his hymnal bookmarks kept fluttering to the floor, he suddenly realized that the adhesive could be applied to bookmarks to attach them to the page. The resulting “sticky notes” were acclaimed by Time Magazine as “one of the most significant inventions of the past 25 years.”


  • Apple Computer: Steve Wozniak, a computer engineer at Hewlett Packard, had his main inspiration while conversing during his leisure time with Captain Crunch, a local California cult hero who used a teletype machine to communicate with a computer in Boston over ARPA-net. He combined this insight with his own version of the arcade game PONG and microprocessor technology to create Apple I.
  • Pierre Omidyar had his creative vision to create eBay after watching his fiancé’s irritation trying to use local classified ads to locate hard-to-find products.

But not all creative insights lead to profitable innovations. To generate value, either the inventor, or his/her boss, must identify those insights that can lead to commercial success, and then effectively protect and develop them. Which inventions to pursue, and which to reject, may not be at all clear at the time. 3M supported Fry’s proposal; HP rejected Wozniak’s – who then left the company, and with Steve Jobs, founded Apple.
This course explores the key management challenges involved in generating value from inventive insights. We take students through the innovation process progressively, from the initial flash-of-genius through commercial development. At each stage, students will reflect on the relevant management choices and learn the economic, legal, and managerial skills to facilitate informed decisions. The course consists of three modules.

  1. Creativity and Corporate Opportunity: What conditions tend to enhance creativity, and what conditions tend to kill it?How can inventors know when to move forward with their creative flashes? How can managers identify creative employees – and persuade them to reveal their inventive insights? How can creative insights best be protected via IP rights like patents, copyrights, trademarks?
  2. From Drawing Board to Development: What criteria can inventors – and/or their managers – use to pick the winners, and reject the losers? When should the employee inventor consider leaving the firm and create a new venture? What happens when the creative insight “hits” organizational reality? How can companies develop profitable IP strategies?
  3. Creating Commercial Value: What factors should management take into consideration when timing the entry of their innovation on the market? How can development and commercialization strategies best be aligned with IP and licensing strategies?What should the company be aware of legally with regard to licensing and contracting? What are the main implications for managers?
Teaching methods
A combination of lectures, class discussions, cases and simulations building on perspectives from the readings on both strategy/management and law, plus practical examples from business.
Further Information
Subcategories of the course:
Corporate and Business Strategy
Expected literature

Creativity and Corporate Opportunity:

  • Amabile, T.M. & Mueller J.S. 2007. Studying creativity, its process and its antecedents: An exploration of the componential theory of creativity, in J. Zhou and C. Shalley (Eds.) Handbook of Organizational Creativity Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Augsdorfer, P. (2008).”Managing the unmanageable,” Research-Technology Management, July-August, 2008, pp.41-47
  • Dyer, J.H., Gregersen, H.B. and Christensen, C.M. 2009. The innovator’s DNA. Harvard Business Review, December, 60-67.
  • Excerpts from Miller, Roger and William E. Hollowell, Business Law: Text and Exercises (West Legal Studies in Business, latest edition).
  • Perry-Smith, J. (2008). When being social facilitates creativity: Social networks and creativity within organizations. in J. Zhou and C. Shalley (Eds.) Handbook of Organizational Creativity Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp. 189-210.

From Drawing Board to Development:

  • Audia, P.G. and Rider, C.K. (2005). A Garage and an idea: What more does an entrepreneur need? California Management Review 48 (1), Fall, pp. 6-28.
  • Bonabeau, E, Bodick, N. and Armstrong, R.W. 2008. A more rational approach to new product development, Harvard Business Review, March, pp. 96-102
  • Cooper, R.G. (2009), How companies are reinventing their idea-to-launch methodologies, Research-Technology Management, March-April, pp. 47-57.
  • Elmquist, M. and Le Masson, P. 2009. The value of a ‘failed’ R&D project: an emerging evaluation framework for building innovative capabilities, R&D Management 39 (2), pp. 136-152
  • MacQueen, Hector et. al (2010). Contemporary Intellectual Property Law and Policy. Chapter 1, 2, 3, 13 and 14.
  • McCarthy, I.P., Tsinopoulos, C., Allen, P. and Rose-Andersen, C. 2006. New product development as a complex adaptive system of decisions. Journal of Product Innovation Management: 23: 437-456
  • Reid, S.E./De Brentani, U. 2004. The fuzzy front end of new product development for discontinuous innovations: a theoretical model,Journal of Product Innovation Management 21, pp. 170-184.
  • Terwiesch, C. and Ulrich, K.T. (2010). Picking the winners. International Commerce Review, Summer, 9 (1): 10-21.

· Creating Commercial Value

  • Arora, A, and Gambardella, A.(2010). Ideas for rent: an overview of markets for technology, Industrial and Corporate Change 19 (3), pp. 775-803
  • Davis, L.N. (2008). “Licensing Strategies of the New ‘Intellectual Property Vendors,” California Management Review, Winter,50 (2), pp. 6-30.
  • Elmquist, M. and Le Masson, P. 2009. The value of a ‘failed’ R&D project: an emerging evaluation framework for building innovative capabilities, R&D Management 39 (2), pp. 136-152
  • Latham, D.A. (2008). International Considerations in Intellectual Property Licensing, The Licensing Journal (March), pp. 1-6
  • Chesbrough, H.W. and Garman, A.R. (2009). How open innovation can help you cope in lean times. Harvard Business Review, December, 68-76.
  • Klepper, S. 2009. Spinoffs: A review and synthesis, EuropeanManagement Review, 6: 159-171
Last updated on 10-04-2013