Ready for Liftoff at the Huntsman School
Here are a few examples of new developments and student successes that will continue to fuel the school’s growing strength in innovation.
A New MBA Specialization in Enterprise Development
In a new course called “Enterprise Creation,” students are able to fortify and shape their new business ideas. This course is followed by classes in “Enterprise Growth and Management,” “Enterprise Branding and Marketing,” and “Enterprise Planning and Execution.”
By the time the student has earned that MBA, a nascent business idea can be well planned and ready to launch.
A New Undergraduate Minor in Entrepreneurship
The new minor is designed to add a powerful component to a wide variety of majors, whether business or engineering or humanities. These students from disparate majors will be thrown together in the perfect setting to combine skill sets. The students are encouraged to work on developing their own business ideas while taking a 12-credit minor. The minor is comprised of six two-credit short-course modules that can be taken in one seven-week summer program or spread out over a couple of semesters.
“Partners in Business” Brings Professional Innovators to Campus
While students are taking courses in innovation, they can join businesspeople from the community at five “Partners in Business” conferences each year. The conferences are meant to give businesspeople an update on the latest developments in each discipline. A variety of business luminaries have spoken at these events.
One of those speakers in February this year was Jeremy Pack. Think of him as “the poster child” for innovation. Jeremy graduated from Utah State in 2006 with degrees in both computer science and computational mathematics. Immediately after graduation he joined Google as a senior software engineer on the Google Street View project—a truly revolutionary undertaking that was really just getting started then.
Jeremy explained that Google Street View had grown to providing street-level imagery along millions of miles of streets in 30 countries around the world, as well as images from inside businesses large and small. Then he demonstrated Google Street View’s capabilities on a large projection screen, taking the audience for a spin around the world. He shared specific examples of the improvements this radical innovation can bring to fields as diverse as television news, transportation, disaster response, architecture, city planning, contagious disease tracking, and just driving in a car.
Finally he talked about the challenges of the Google business model, a topic that lots of technology innovators wrestle with. How can such “free access” technology enterprises avoid the “business model” pitfalls that have beset a number of giant players in that field?
Leadership Development for the Faculty
Dean Douglas D. Anderson asked all faculty members to read a book over the summer for discussion at the faculty retreat in the fall. The book was “The New Entrepreneurial Leader”, by Danna Greenberg, Kate McKone-Sweet, and H. James Wilson, from Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2011, with copyright held by Babson College, a university well known for its powerful entrepreneurship curriculum.
The authors described a capability called “cognitive ambidexterity,” in which entrepreneurs learn to combine and switch between two different skillsets: the more traditional “prediction approach to thought and action” and the newer “creative approach to thought and action.”
The prediction approach is what most business students traditionally have been taught, but the creation approach follows a different set of principles. For example:
- If perceived resource needs are beyond your control, start to create something with what you have.
- When the future is unpredictable, create the future by shaping opportunities.
- When operating with limited information, take action in the real world to acquire information, but expect and leverage surprises or failures.
This is a more assertive approach to business development and innovation. The authors then lay out a persuasive roadmap for how and when to use the prediction approach and the creation approach, with ample examples of the intertwined processes in action.
A Wheelchair Lift
James Somers is working on his MBA now, but he was a mechanical engineering student when he helped develop an innovative wheelchair lift. The device helps a caretaker lift and stow a wheelchair into the trunk of a car.
A second device he also worked on, called a mechanics creeper, was developed to allow people to work under a car, even if they can’t use their legs. The creeper sits at a height that allows a person to transfer over from a wheelchair onto it, and then the creeper lowers and reclines so the person can slide under a vehicle.
The marketplace for devices to assist aging Americans is likely to grow significantly, and graduates like James Somers, with business skills and engineering experience, will be well poised to continue to develop innovative new solutions for that market.
Social Media Success
Sterling Morris graduated from the Huntsman School in May of 2012, with a master’s degree in management information systems. His final grade, one might say, would be an A+ for the dramatic growth he created in the Huntsman School’s social media over the two years that he managed it.
By April of 2012 the Huntsman School’s Facebook site ranked 15th in the nation among the nearly 500 business schools accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). That was a 967 percent increase in followers from when he started managing it.
In that same month, just before Sterling graduated, the school’s Twitter account had reached more than 9,000 followers, making it number eight among AACSB schools. The YouTube account that he launched had drawn more than 40,000 views, reaching a rank of number 29 in the nation.
He says that he studied what other business schools and companies did right and then tried to do even better. “I discovered a well-managed social media presence is consistent, responsive, and engaging,” he said.
Further, he learned that the Huntsman community was most interested in positive news about the school and photos of events on campus.
The Huntsman School community is heavily invested in the school, from tuition dollars and donations to time spent,” he said. “They’re proud of the business school and want to hear about what’s going on there.”