Avoiding Failure in Innovation: A New Bocconi MOOC

, by Fabio Todesco
A hands on approach, including the use of large datasets, distinguishes the new course, available on the Coursera platform. Participants will learn to scientifically tackle the decision making process in innovation

Innovation is naturally prone to failure, but when the innovation process is managed scientifically, the failure rate decreases. Bocconi scholars have proved this true for startup entrepreneurs and are now transferring the same insights to innovation management in established companies in a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), A Scientific Approach to Innovation Management, to be launched on the Coursera platform on Thursday, 14 February.

«Acting as a scientist in a decision-making process means articulating a theory, developing hypotheses, testing them, and critically evaluating the results. Nowadays, it also requires the ability to analyze large datasets», says Chiara Spina, one of the three Bocconi scholars that designed the course, the other ones being Arnaldo Camuffo and Alfonso Gambardella. That's why the new MOOC also includes exercises on datasets provided by the lecturers. «The number of observations largely exceeds the average classroom exercise», Prof. Spina says, «and participants can analyze them with the Stata package or Excel. The dataset of the final assignment is the largest one of the course and participants will have to write a report on it and make a decision about a new product launch».

The MOOC topic, furthermore, is so original that it has no clear counterpart in classroom courses. The only analogies are with optional courses taught at SDA Bocconi MBA and Bocconi's MSc in Economics and Management of Innovation and Technology.

«The hands-on approach, with the use of datasets, is a new thing in our Coursera MOOC collection», Sabrina Santamaria, project manager of the course for BUILT (Bocconi University Innovation in Learning and Teaching), says. «The MOOC maintains the usual community management apparatus, plus interactive features such a AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on Reddit».

«Our intention is to focus the discussions on controversial topics, e.g. the future of the electric car or Eric Ries' idea to create an alternative stock exchange, with no obvious solution. The important thing is swaying the participants to tackle the themes in a rational way», says Prof. Spina.

The MOOC apparatus also includes interviews with entrepreneurs and big data managers and a video on Samuel West's Museum of Failure, which will be followed by discussions on what established companies could have done differently in order to avoid their fiascos.

How Exercises Are Conducted: An Excerpt

How Exercises Are Conducted

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