Penn. Organizational DynamicsProf. Steven F. Freeman
Creativity and Innovation in
Organization and Work

Organizational Dynamics 692 Course Information / Syllabus

Creativity begins with questions. Innovation begins with problems. Education begins with you. This course is first and foremost about your questions and your problems.

Creativity and Innovation are broad subject areas encompassing far more than can be covered in a single course. I will expose you to the field's breadth and basic concepts but class material and discussion emerge from your needs and interests.

At the center of the course experience is your personalized course project. I try to help every class participant accomplish something significant (see useful assignments), but this does require you to delve into, reflect upon and share your questions and problems, and take a leadership role in shaping the course to meet your core interests.

Educational Objectives

  • Learn the mechanics of vocational creativity and business innovation
  • Identify organizational, institutional and personal barriers to creativity and innovation
  • Experience - and apply - creativity and innovation in work and life

General Educational Approach

The effort you put into getting a degree represents a significant portion of your life and a very large proportion of time not obligated to family or employer. As such it’s precious, and the time spent on assignments should reflect that value. So I strive to help you to do useful assignments. But this does require you to reflect on what would be of value.

More generally, I try to tailor the course each year to the particular interests of each class participant. But to do that, I need you to explore, share and develop those interests.

Course Concept and Approach

Most serious study of innovation has focused on its dynamics and how these dynamics can be managedA broader range of studies also consider the nature of creativity and techniques to facilitiate innovation

We survey these areas, emphasizing the relationship between innovation and organization, which are central to innovation both as facilitators and impediments. More generally, we consider the process of Organizing Innovation, the role of individuals, teams and organizations in effecting change and realizing its benefits. 

I cover one additional theme -- improvisation -- both because it provides insights into dealing with novel situations, and also as anitdote to the relentless organizational and institutional l pressures that crush the "impulsivity" and "deviance" that we need for creativity and innovation.

In the end, though, the core of the course are the real issues of your life and work. Creativity begins with questions, innovation begins with problems, and education begins with you. Reflect on the central issues of your life and work, and come prepared to share them with the class. The success of your experience rests on a willingness to explore your core interests and take a leadership role in molding the course to meet them.

Grading/Assignments

Class Participation (40% of grade): Class attendance and participation is required. Come prepared to think, experience, and act. Class participants should help lead in areas related to their core interests. See handout, Expectations for Class Participation

Course Projects (60% of grade): Consider why you are enrolling in this course and what you hope to get out of it. What would be the best possible outcome of having taken the course? Is there anything you really want to do or accomplish towards which this course may be helpful?

"Accomplishments" could include:

  • Develop or sell an innovative idea
  • Build/ design something - either a concrete thing or an organization
  • Do a project that might get you a desired job
  • Conduct a case study of a firm and issue of particular interest
  • Write an article for publication or make a video
  • Identify and explicate a significant epiphany
  • Create a work of art
  • Write a grant proposal to get funding to pursue a larger project
  • Action research attempting organizational innovation
  • Develop a website, "hub" or interest group around a particular issue
  • Develop a plan for realizing a valued project

This could be a smaller stand alone project, a piece of a larger project or a team effort. Ideally course projects are identifiable as components in your overall educational program. Do something you WANT to do, it's not (just) a test or yet another burden. Consider me, your classmates and the OD program as means to pursue and accomplish something uniquely valuable.

This could be a smaller stand alone project, a piece of a larger project or a team effort. Ideally course projects are identifiable as components in your overall educational program. Do something you WANT to do, it's not (just) a test or yet another burden. Consider me, your classmates and the OD program as means to pursue and accomplish something uniquely valuable.

By the end of the course, you must turn in a paper and/or give a presentation about your project. If you choose to write a paper, please read my Guide to Developing and Writing a Research Paper and attend my research writing workshops. If you choose to do a presentation, please read my Guide to Presenting a Course Project.

Grades and course credit are awarded as directed by program guidelines.


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Date Page Created: Jan 22, 2012 Last Page Update: Dec 16, 2013