Creative Leadership & Problem Solving

Concept Coherence

Creative Leadership & Problem Solving | Online Exercise # 7

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This week you’ll practice a couple of strategies to effectively communicate novel ideas to share your idea for a novel toy with classmates.

Innovation increasingly involves collaborating with experts from a variety of disciplines, this can present challenges because 1) innovation is an inherently ambiguous process as it involves creating things or ideas that do not yet exist, and 2) experts apply highly specialized knowledge that their teammates may not understand. Creative leaders know how to transcend these challenges, and this week we’re going to practice doing so.


Step 1: Story

Create a brief story about your toy. It should feature a protagonist who encounters a problem, and the product/toy helps them solve that problem. Stories typically establish the users’ or customers’ needs so teammates know how to design the product accordingly. For more detail and some examples, see “Managing the Repertoire” particularly the sub-section on stories that begins on page 699.

Step 2: Metaphor

Create a metaphor that clarifies the toy’s desired attributes. Metaphors are commonly used to make new and novel concepts understandable to others, and highlight what is ‘new’ abut the concept. For some examples, see “Managing the Repertoire” particularly the sub-section on metaphors that begins on page 700.

Step 3: Prototype

Using cheap and readily available materials, make a physical prototype of the toy. For example, if you were making a prototype of the ‘sportula’ you could tape a bottle opener and a sports logo onto a normal spatula. Alternatively, you can use PlayDoh!, Lego, pipe-cleaners, etc. The prototype should be rough and rapidly constructed. See the Tim Brown article on “Design Thinking” for examples and further advice. Prototypes are commonly used to help the team understand the form and function of the product.

Note the prototype must be original, avoid using images or graphics that already exist.

Step 4: Share

Make a brief discussion post to share your work with the rest of the class. The post should:

  1. Introduce the concept for the innovative toy.
  2. Share the Story about the user, problem, and the solution provided by the toy.
  3. Share the Metaphor and some associated context so that others can understand the metaphor.
  4. Share pictures of the Prototype(s).
  5. Read your classmates work and provide affirmative comments on two other posts.


This online exercise is worth 5% of your final grade.

For this submission, the online exercise will primarily be evaluated via degree of completion by answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following statements:

  1. The post briefly introduced the concept for the novel toy.
  2. The post included a brief story featuring a protagonist who encounters and overcomes a problem.
  3. The post included a metaphor to facilitate concept coherence.
  4. The post included a picture of the prototype.
  5. The author provided affirmative comments on two other posts created by classmates.



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