1. Class Content and Structure2. Why Take ES21? 3. Is ES21 compatible with other innovation classes or initiatives at Harvard?
- Use human-centered design methods to collaboratively develop an idea from inception to implementation plan
- Develop deep understanding of human behavior issues in your sub-interest area
- Formulate a problem statement and generate initial ideas
- Convince thought leaders of your competency in your chosen sub-domain(s)
- Develop tangible human-centered project ideas
- Test prototypes with users and refine your idea
- Present your idea to your peers, the teaching staff, and to thought leaders
- Produce your idea for maximum impact in the real world
- Measure and evaluate the impact of your idea
- Identify patterns in your passions (intrinsic motivations) and find ways to integrate them into your project(s)
- Form teams, discuss, negotiate and articulate your team’s purpose
- Develop a role and expertise in an area that is of value to your team (and of interest to you!)
- Set goals, establish roles and processes, and stay organized
- Lead creative projects effectively
- Work effectively in teams and deal with common problems that arise
- Methods to fairly evaluate ideas and make difficult decisions in your team
- Network, approach and learn from mentors and the experiences of diverse others
- Reflect on a project and plan your future practice
Reason 1: You are excited about the class challenge to develop a tangible project that excites you, and has real world, measurable impact by the end of the term
Reason 2: Great ideas alone are not enough (and you don't need them to take this course) Great ideas (and highly capable entrepreneurs with great ideas) fail to have impact all the time, and for many reasons. Like anything, innovation (or creating ideas with impact, as we broadly define it in this class) benefits from practice and specific learnable skills.
Reason 3: Other people will determine whether your ideas are influential or not Whether inside your design team as you’re building your idea, or once you’ve released it to the world, other people will determine whether your ideas are influential or not. Fields like human-computer interaction, human factors and environmental psychology have integrated insights from psychology and design for many years; however, experiential courses at the intersection of psychology and innovation are relatively rare (two notable exceptions are Stanford's BJ Fogg and Julian Godorsky).
Reason 4: Understanding human behavior helps you become a better innovator Successful innovators develop skills in understanding human behavior in two fundamental areas: collaborating effectively with others to bring an idea to fruition, and learning from potential users to develop solutions that people will actually want and use.
Reason 5: You can learn to design things people want to interact with There are multiple ways to learn from potential users' needs, struggles and behaviors. In ES21, you learn how to study user behavior, observe the challenges people encounter with existing solutions, extract patterns and identify novel innovation opportunities from these. This class goes beyond approaches that rely on users to tell you what they want or will use in the future (people tend not to be very accurate with these predictions).
Reason 6: You can learn to collaborate more effectively Today, most innovation originates in teams, and often involves working across disciplines, cultures, locations and organizations. Although we know that people can learn to work better in teams, training in this area tends to occur after graduation, and to be limited to trial and error with limited feedback. In ES21, at each stage of your project development, we'll be discussing readings on effective collaboration and leadership that are directly applicable to your experience.
Absolutely! ES21 teaches you specific methods for overcoming many of the under-represented (people-oriented) challenges facing innovators, designing things that fit with human behavior (which may be big or small ideas), and creating measurable impact within the constraints of the term, and these skills will likely help you in other classes and projects you take on. Past students have built on skills learned in ES21 in various ways: as entrepreneurs in residence at the Harvard Innovation Lab; as entrepreneurs attracting initial funding; as students or teaching fellows in other innovation courses like Medical Device Innovation (ES227) or Aspirational Design (ES20); and as interns in technology and innovation companies.