I was recently invited to teach a class for San Diego State University undergraduates interested in entrepreneurship: MGT 453.1 — Creativity and Innovation. I accepted the invitation, and will begin teaching my brand-new class in the fall.
However, there’s just one problem: What will I teach?
The good news is that I have an existing syllabus used by the current professor on which to model my own class. And as I reviewed the syllabus, it was no surprise to me that the arts are used to provide examples to students of how creativity and innovation work in the real world, and how they might be applied by entrepreneurs in starting and building their own businesses.
One example is the Harvard case study “Paul Robertson and the Medici String Quartet.” Although I have not yet read this case study, my understanding (gleaned from the executive summary) is that the Medici String Quartet has enjoyed a long and creative collaboration. But it hasn’t always been harmonious. The case study explains what innovative businesses can learn about managing creative people.
The case explores three key points:
— Businesses emphasize technical mastery and the creation of predictable patterns. The Medici String Quartet aimed for more. The goal of each performance was never to render a piece exactly as the composer intended, but to interpret it in fresh and new ways.
— Financial pressures for the quartet could be intense. Among musicians, it’s an old (but good) joke: How do you become a millionaire as a classical musician? Start as a billionaire.
— Businesses enjoy the notion that innovation happens when everyone is happy and satisfied. As the quartet proved, harmony comes in unexpected ways.
At any rate, I am looking forward to myself exploring the different ways that I can introduce the arts to my students as examples of how to increase creativity and innovation in organizations.
What examples would you use to accomplish this goal?