Aug 21st 2017

Creating Innovation (Coursera)

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BIG HISTORY – SOLVING COMPLEX PROBLEMS will teach you revolutionary new problem-solving skills. Involving lectures from over 50 experts from all faculties at Macquarie University, we look at solving complex problems in a way that has never been done before. CREATING INNOVATION will teach you what is at the core of all the innovations we develop to solve complex problems and how to foster methods and a healthy environment to make big breakthroughs possible.

To solve complex problems, whether it is the challenge of developing a new product, or Einstein’s task of trying to explain how gravity worked - and literally everything else in between - it is not enough to take the problem and apply already existing skills. Calculus is important. So is careful, rigorous thought. So are careful financial predictions. But the skill that has always led to big breakthroughs in any field or industry is the skill of seeing something in a new way. That is the vital skill you will learn in this Coursera specialization.

Achieving this expanded view of a complex problem is simple, effective, and sorely needed in today's world.

To see a complex problem in a new way, you need to contemplate it from different angles. Eventually, you may arrive at the angle that gets you to the next stage of solving the problem. We call this ‘TURNING THE CRYSTAL’. You look at one facet of the problem; then another, then another, and gradually a complex picture builds of how a problem is constructed. It then becomes possible to deconstruct that problem, and to solve it successfully, with some highly creative innovation.

Turning the crystal allows us to see the same problem refracted in different ways and at different scales. The multi-disciplinary perspective of Big History allows us to do this because it explores familiar problems from different, and often unfamiliar, perspectives. Different perspectives offer new insights, and the synergies between those insights can help us understand familiar problems more deeply.

At the heart of this specialization are crucial skills that are applicable to any career path, industry, or field.

You will learn to view problems at multiple scales. The deep problems of our epoch involve long term trends and all the disciplines. These complex problems are more easily understood if explored in a way that does that broad scope and multi-disciplinary perspective justice. Political and financial decisions will be taken by politicians and entrepreneurs thinking of the next election or the next quarterly report. But we must look further ahead. To understand the deep problems of our times, we need to be able to view change on much larger scales. Not just on a short-sighted timescale, not just from the perspective of a single discipline.

In this specialization, you will see what a mathematician, or a biologist, or a financial analyst brings to a particular problem. How would a mathematician approach the problem? How would a biologist? How would a financial analyst approach things? Or a lawyer? Or a political scientist? And, most crucially, what common points do they all share? A synthesis of the collective learning of all disciplines is crucial to unraveling the complex problems that face us today.

By teaching you how to Turn the Crystal when facing new problems, this Coursera specialization will equip you with the skills you will need to understand complexity, problem-solving, and innovation, at multiple scales and from multiple perspectives. It will help you achieve a deeper and richer level of understanding of profound aspects of today’s world.

The first course of the specialization ANALYZING COMPLEXITY will teach you what unifying patterns lie at the core of all complex problems.

The second course of the specialization EVALUATING PROBLEMS will show you how humans think - biologically, neurologically, and philosophically - and how to utilize 5,000 years of evolving disciplinary approaches to tackle problems more effectively.

The third course of the specialization CREATING INNOVATION will teach you what is at the core of all the innovations we develop to solve complex problems and how to foster methods and a healthy environment to make big breakthroughs possible.

From the very start of the specialization, your assignments will be geared toward tackling a complex issue of your choice that you face in your career path, industry, or field. Each phase of the course builds up to a briefing paper that analyzes, evaluates, and attempts to solve a highly complex problem. Not only does this course teach you a skill set, but it puts you further down the road in understanding the problems of your chosen field. It advances your knowledge of your own discipline by teaching you to look at it in new ways.

This course, CREATING INNOVATION is constructed in the following way:

Week I. “What is Innovation?” – What lies at the core of all innovations.

Week II. “The Evolution of Human Creativity” – How humans developed the ability to innovate and think creatively.

Week III. “Innovation in a Complex Global Network” – How innovations emerge from human networks.

Week IV. “Planning Innovation” – How organisations seek out and create the right conditions for new breakthroughs.

Week V. “Market Innovation” – What makes innovations more likely to emerge in a market setting.

Week VI. “Innovation in the Anthropocene” – How innovations are crucial to meet the problems of the 21st century.

Course 3 of 4 in the Solving Complex Problems Specialization.



What is Innovation?

Welcome to Course 3 of the specialisation! In this module we will look at what innovation is, in the broadest possible context, and how the innovations humans devise to solve complex problems are the continuation of a much bigger and more critical trend.

Graded: Multiple Choice - Mod. 1

Graded: Short writing for Module 1: What is innovation?


The Evolution of Human Creativity

In this module we will look at the main drivers of human innovation and how they have shaped the entirety of human society and history.

Graded: Multiple Choice - Mod. 2

Graded: Short writing for Module 2: The evolution of human creativity


Innovation in a Complex Global Network

In this module, we will examine the information networks that arose out of increasing human complexity, from the earliest such networks to the global network that fosters human innovation today.

Graded: Multiple Choice - Mod. 3

Graded: Module 3: Innovation in complex global networks


Planning Innovation

This module will deal with top-down innovations, where large organisations shape their infrastructures to maximize the chances of discovering an innovative solution to a problem.

Graded: Multiple Choice - Mod. 4

Graded: Short writing for Module 4: Planned innovation


Market Innovation

In this module we will examine bottom-up innovation, where the forces of supply and demand can under the right conditions foster innovation and increase the chances of them occurring.

Graded: Multiple Choice - Mod. 5

Graded: Short writing for Module 5: Market-driven innovation


Innovation in the Anthropocene

In this module, we will look at the future of innovation and how we may cope with the complex problems that arise out of the Anthropocene.

Graded: Multiple Choice - Mod. 6

Graded: Short writing for Module 6: Innovation in the Anthropocene

Graded: Final assignment for Course 3: Creating Innovation

Graded: Final assignment for Course 3: Creating Innovation

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