Even the best ideas are useless until put into practice, and the most effective innovators and entrepreneurs are those who can adapt their ideas to fit reality. This topic focuses on learning - and using - theoretically grounded tools for assessing the desirability, feasibility and viability of any idea - and for tuning the idea to fit real constraints and opportunities. Through readings, videos and a series of hands-on, in-the-field exercises, students will test, refine, test again, and refine again a particular innovation. Along the way, students will learn the theoretical underpinnings of and practical tips for applying proven research tools for understanding users' needs and perceptions, customers and funders' willingness to pay, competitive dynamics and the broader context. Students will also learn and practice techniques for adjusting ideas to meet the opportunities and challenges their action research reveals.
This topic aims to inspire and enable students to get out into the field and test new ideas at once rigorously and rapidly. On one level, this is a methods topic, exposing students to a variety of applied research approaches, including relevant methodological and statistical tools, used to tease out and understand users' needs and perceptions, customers and funders' willingness to pay, competitive dynamics and the broader context. On another level, this is a creativity and critical thinking topic that pushes students to re-frame, re-think and redesign ideas iteratively as their evidence-driven understanding of the needs and context evolves in response to evidence about user, competitor and funder perceptions and behaviors.