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MBA Course Sharpens Creative Minds

Broad’s Full-Time MBA Program has built a three-day short course into each semester to stimulate creative and innovative thinking. “Extreme Green” provides students experiences with corporate partners to prepare students to innovate in real-world situations.

“The course expands on Broad’s team-centric approach to learning for students to learn how to create as a team and develop better solutions,” said Glenn Omura, associate dean for MBA and professional master’s programs at the Broad College of Business.

During sessions, students take an inside look the C-suite to understand the importance of innovative leadership. Students went through the same creativity training that new executives at P&G receive, heard MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon’s thoughts on leading a creative organization, and even experienced improv comedy training to prepare them for presentations and leadership in swiftly changing conditions.

Other sessions focused on developing creative strategies to solve real business issues. Students got a rare glimpse into the internal operations of General Motors when they were given access to top-secret GM intellectual property to brainstorm new ideas around the motor giant’s concepts. GM executives mentored teams as they shaped their creative vision, spending 20-40 hours (in addition to the 50-60 hour academic week) generating and presenting new business ideas designed to leverage GM’s core competencies and the latest technologies. GM pushed the students to imagine the future of automotive technology, and innovate around where automotive technology and connectivity are heading.

“The exposure to how GM thinks, some of the new innovations they’re working on (that I can’t talk about), gives us a huge advantage in going into the automotive or other innovative manufacturing industry,” said Daniel Napier (MBA ’16). “Additionally, presenting an idea that you came up with to managers and vice presidents of a Fortune 10 company is an enormous opportunity very few people have the chance at to practice,” he said.

Another session challenged students to solve a problem facing executives from Wrigley’s 5 Gum. Given that the way consumers purchase goods is now almost entirely online, products that rely on impulse buys at the checkout line, such as gum, are suffering. Wrigley’s executives asked Broad MBAs to address this challenge in a case competition. Student teams first had to understand current consumer macro trends, then project them 10 years into the future to imagine what technologies might be easily accessible for business and consumer use, as well as develop a futuristic perspective of what future consumer purchasing behavior might be like then, Omura said.

Competition-winning student ideas included a self-monitoring cell phone app that “knew” when to suggest a gum purchase and facilitate an online purchase, a way of changing consumer behavior from impulse to habitual purchasing, and “embedding” packs of 5 Gum in the Candy Crush video game.
“From my perspective, the opportunity to create innovative business models and ideas in a live project situation, for a corporate partner, is a special experience,” said Wayne Hutchison, director of academic and program services.

“This course was a unique experience that made me a more well-rounded business professional and better able to challenge, strengthen, and integrate both soft and hard business skills. It has helped me become a creative and analytical thinker simultaneously while trying to solve one problem,” said Elizabeth Richter (MBA ’16).


Eli Broad College of Business

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