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2012/2013  KAN-CM_E102  Designing Innovative Organizations

English Title
Designing Innovative Organizations

Course information

Language English
Exam ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Course period Spring, First Quarter
Changes in course schedule may occur
Thursday 9:50-13.20, week 44-50
Thursday 9.50-14.15, week 51
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Max. participants 60
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Daved Barry - Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy
  • Stefan Meisiek - Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy
Administrative contact: Karina Ravn Nielsen, LPF/MPP,
electives.lpf@cbs.dk, direct phone 3815 3782
Main Category of the Course
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Management
  • Experience economy and service management
  • Organization
Last updated on 19-03-2013
Learning objectives
Students will become more proficient at:
• balancing and integrating design and scientific research and framing approaches
• learning when and how to use particular design-led approaches to create innovative outcomes
• developing desirable solutions to real-world organizational problems
• presenting to real-world users
• teamwork and project management
• working with complex data

And apply these skills to
• design noteworthy and effective organizational structures and processes
• become attentive to process complexities—how personalities, company histories, context, and inertia interact, and how these can be worked with

  • Students will learn to knowledgeably choose between and skillfully employ a variety of science and design related techniques in the service of designing innovative organizations
  • To describe, analyze and evaluate various organizational designs in terms of their costs and benefits
  • To create, critique, convincingly demonstrate, and discuss solutions to pernicious enterprise problems
Designing Innovative Organizations:
Type of test Home Assignment
Marking scale 7-step scale
Second examiner No second examiner
Exam period April and May/June
Aids Open Book, Written and Electronic Aid is permitted
Duration Please, see the detailed regulations below
Individual home assignment of max. 15 pages.
Course content
Common knowledge holds that innovation is essential to organizational health and survival, a belief recently been confirmed by large-scale, global studies that show strong causative relationships between organizational innovation, longevity, and long term success. Getting to innovation requires a search for, and incorporating of “otherness”—alternate and unusual ideas, processes, markets, operations, strategies. Yet, otherness doesn’t fit at all well with organizational imperatives for predictability and continuity. Some companies address this through creating separate units which are not bound by the usual company constraints. These units can work with whomever they want and in whatever way they want, as long as their results quickly and cost-efficiently benefit the remainder of the organization. The hope is that allowing these units to “float” will make them perceptive, creative, and offer a more profound way grasp ongoing trends, and develop answers that can a) be directly commercialized by the remainder of the organization, or b) significantly improve the cost-efficiency of ongoing processes there. This purpose behind the close-yet-far relationship is also the reason why the function is not outsourced.
A lot of business organizations are struggling to establish "otherness-driven" processes in their organizations. While they go to great lengths to change reporting relationships, incentives, placement, and so on to make it possible, most of these initiatives soon peel apart or wither away. Organizational identity, culture, or structural inertia get the better of the effort. A few successful companies, however, have shown us how to do it: Boeing Moonshine, Disney’s Imagineering, Proctor and Gamble’s Clay Street Project, and Nike’s Innovation Kitchen are skunk-work-like approaches to establishing parallel innovative and creative capacities in traditional industries. But also less obvious organizations like Maersk or the Danish tax ministry have created such parallel structures. The Designing Innovation Organizations course takes its starting point from this situation and these successful cases.
From here we unfold a larger view around designing innovative organizations in times when organizational boundaries are becoming permeable, interpretively flexible, and blurry. The landscape of what business organizations are and do is rapidly changing. We see it in the way that organizations react to, embrace, or relate to larger purposes expressed in consumer communities, online developer communities, stakeholder groups, and related industries. The challenge is how to develop the organizational flexibility and pluralism needed today. The answer seems to lie in a recent development: over the last decade, design practice has made major inroads into how organizations and inter-organizational networks are developed and managed. Creative companies like IDEO, Google, Alessi, 3M, and Lego are placing it at the center of how they do business. While it started in areas like service and product design, these are now being supplemented by design-based approaches to strategy, new ventures, branding, organizational structure, operating processes (e.g. designing meetings), communication, job development, production, reward systems, and information systems; all in the service of designing innovative organizations.
The purpose of this course is to a) give students a general overview of how innovative organizations are designed, b) provide students with some basic organizational design skills for innovation, and c) give an opportunity for problem-based learning through application of the gained knowledge and skills to an ongoing organizational design project. The course will achieve this in three parts:
Part 1: exploring and discussing how parallel “otherness-driven” organizational units can be designed and maintained. What theories and best practices help the organizational designers in achieving this feat?
Part 2: describing the larger landscape of organizations, and the role of design within it. How can design help to create the innovative organizations of the future? Where are the limits?
Part 3: bringing economic considerations and design processes together in a carefully considered way that creates value for organizations. How can we create better designs of organizations, networks, and institutions around innovation-focused lines?
Teaching methods
The course is distinguished by its use of a studio pedagogy, which stresses creative imagination exercises, hands-on making, experimentation, prototyping, and demonstration—all done during class time and partly outside of class. Imagine a design studio devoted to creatively solving business problems—this is the core idea. Students work in small design teams to create imaginative solutions (which are regularly reviewed and critiqued by practitioner guests).
Expected literature
Tentative literature:
Austin, Rob, and Lee Devin 2003 Artful making. Upper Saddle River, NJ.: FT Prentice Hall.
Barry, Daved and Claus Rerup 2006 ‘Going Mobile: Aesthetic Design Considerations from Calder and the Constructivists.’ Organization Science 17/2: 262-276.
Boland, R and Collopy, F. 2004. Managing as Designing. Stanford Univ. Press
Daft, Richard. 2007. Organizational Theory and Design. Southwest Publishing.
Hargadon, A. B., & Douglas, Y. 2001. When innovation meets institutions: Edison and the design of the electric light. Administrative Science Quarterly, 46: 476–501.
Liedka, J. and Mintzberg, H. 2006. Time for Design. Design Management Review 2: 10-18.
Luecke, Richard; Ralph Katz 2003. Managing Creativity and Innovation. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Mirvis, Phil, Ayas, Karen, Roth, George. 2001. Learning in performance: How a Dutch company transformed itself. Reflections 2(4).
Van de Ven, A., Polley, D., Garud, R., Venkataraman, S. 1999. The Innovation Journey. Oxford Press.
Vincent, Lanny. 2005. Innovation Midwives: Sustaining Innovation Streams in Established Companies. Research Technology Management, 48(1)
von Hippel, Eric 2005. Democratizing Innovation. Boston, MA: MIT Press.
Last updated on 19-03-2013