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Global Immersion: India: Lessons in (Reverse) Innovation

Fall 2013 MBA Course

B8721-001: Global Immersion: India: Lessons in (Reverse) Innovation

M - B Term, 04:00PM to 07:15PM
Location: WJW 416

Instructor: Gita Johar


Creativity. Is it a flash of Insight? Is it an inherent trait? Can it be taught? Creativity is the driver of innovation, yet little is known about it. Drawing on research establishing that constraints enhance creativity, this course will examine innovative products and services in resource-constrained markets. We will learn about products designed for extreme affordability such as the Wonderbag (energy saving heat retention cooking bag), Embrace (a low cost infant warmer), ChotuKool (a portable cooling solution/refrigerator), mPesa (mobile money), GE Healthcare’s Mac 400 (handheld electrocardiogram machine) and the Tata Nano (the world’s cheapest car). Many of these innovations arise from the constraints of markets and consumers at the base of the pyramid, but they are increasingly being successfully adapted and adopted in developed markets--sometime for different user segments and usages than those for which they were originally conceived.

In this course, we will learn about these innovations and consider challenges of marketing these products and services in the developed world. In this context we will consider consumer barriers to new product adoption as well as other obstacles to scaling and global diffusion. We will also learn about design thinking, the art and science of human-centered product design and how to use it to generate fast, frugal, flexible solutions to consumer problems. On the trip to India, we will study examples of innovation in different sectors such as mobile services, healthcare, housing, education and energy. You will work in small teams of four and study one sector in detail and make a case for importing one innovation in that sector to the US market. You will need to consider the differences in consumer needs and decide what segments of the market can be profitably targeted. You will also need to think about technological and financial viability. Your final report should discuss what changes need to be made to the product or service, as well as the marketing strategy, in order for the innovation to take off in the US market. The design-thinking lens that we will study in class can be used effectively in coming up with your final recommendations.

Please note the unusual meeting times for this course: October 28th from 4-7pm, November 18th from 4-8pm, and December 2nd from 4-5:30pm. The in-country immersion portion of this course will take place in India from January 19-25. Global Immersion Program classes bridge classroom lessons and business practices in another country. These three credit classes meet for half a term in New York prior to a one week visit to the country of focus where students will meet with business executives and government officials while working on team projects. Upon return from the travel portion of the class, students will have a wrap up meeting at Columbia Business School. The 2013-14 Global Immersion program fee for all 6 night courses is $1800 and provides students with double occupancy lodging, ground transportation and some meals. It does not cover roundtrip international airfare. Attendance both in New York and in-country and regular participation are a crucial part of the learning experience and as such attendance is mandatory. Students who miss the first class meeting may be removed from the course and will not have their program fee refunded to them. No program fee refunds will be given after the add/drop period has closed.


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