Practicing Concept Coherence

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Practicing Concept Coherence


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This week you’ll practice a couple of strategies to effectively communicate novel ideas to share your idea for a novel toy with classmates.
Innovation increasingly involves collaborating with experts from a variety of disciplines, this can present challenges because 1) innovation is an inherently ambiguous process as it involves creating things or ideas that do not yet exist, and 2) experts apply highly specialized knowledge that their teammates may not understand. Creative leaders know how to transcend these challenges, and this week we’re going to practice doing so.


From your top 5 toy ideas, select one for this exercise.

Step 1: Story

Create a brief story about your toy. It should feature a protagonist who encounters a problem, and the product/toy helps them solve that problem. Stories typically establish the users’ or customers’ needs so teammates know how to design the product accordingly. For more detail and some examples, see “Managing the Repertoire” particularly the sub-section on stories that begins on page 699. Your story should be at least 3 – 5 sentences.

Step 2: Metaphor

Create a metaphor that clarifies the toy’s desired attributes. Metaphors are commonly used to make new and novel concepts understandable to others, and highlight what is ‘new’ abut the concept. For some examples, see “Managing the Repertoire” particularly the sub-section on metaphors that begins on page 700. Your metaphor should ideally be 1 sentence.

Step 3: Prototype OR Sketch

Using cheap and readily available materials, make a physical prototype of the toy. You can use PlayDoh!, Lego, pipe-cleaners, etc. The prototype should be rough and rapidly constructed. See the Tim Brown article on “Design Thinking” for examples and further advice. Prototypes are commonly used to help the team understand the form and function of the product.
Create a quick visual sketch that shows what the toy would look like. Feel free to label parts of it for better understanding.

Step 4: Share

Make a brief discussion post to share your work with the rest of the class. The post should:

1.    Introduce the concept for the innovative toy.

2. Share the Story about the user, problem, and the solution provided by the toy.

3. Share the Metaphor and some associated context so that others can understand the metaphor.

4. Share pictures of the Prototype(s) and/or Sketches.

5. Read your classmates work and provide affirmative comments on two other posts.

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