Innovation and Commercialization

For the past several weeks, I’ve been taking the online class Innovation and Collaboration, an MITx offering through edX. As with most good training, much of what the course is covering I already know, but what the instructors are providing are a number of frameworks that make it easier to fully grasp and apply in a systematic and repeatable manner.

The first of these frameworks is to separate the process of innovation and commercialization into three domains. In a cute way (perhaps to make it easier to remember), the three domains form the acronym M.I.T.:

  • Market: segments, applications, motivations, size, geography, decision factors, price, competition, etc.
  • Implementation: industry structure, supply chain/value chain, methods of production, cost, regulation, business model, distribution, intellectual property, etc.
  • Technology: physical technology, software, algorithms, ideas, etc.

In this framework, it’s important to note that Implementation is what brings the Technology and Market together.

The second framework is the high level observation that innovation, in all three domains, will incorporate a lot of “old” and perhaps some “new.” For example, technology innovation will involve combining lots of existing technology components perhaps with one or two new technology components, or combining them in an innovative way.

They then introduce frameworks for evaluating innovation and commercialization options within each domain. For example, if we look at the technology domain, we can identify each of the individual technology components. For each of those components, we can identify decisions that we can make about those components – the design factors. Some of those design factors can be constrained within the technology domain (e.g. to make the complete innovation actually work) but many will be influenced by and will influence the other two domains (e.g. market decision factors, manufacturability, cost, regulations, etc.).

Admittedly, there are aspects of the class that are frustrating, but I am finding many of their frameworks helpful and useful. There are still a few more weeks to go, so it will be interesting to see where they will lead us.

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