Creativity & Problem-Solving

The Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH) is conducting research and creating evidence-based approaches to problem-solving. Researchers at LISH are identifying the best way to approach a problem, starting with problem formulation, and experimenting with solvers on the best way to find solutions.

Key Questions

Question

How does the nature of the problem to be solved impact the most optimal problem-solving approaches to be used?

Question

How can problems be best formulated so that outsiders can help solve them?

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How does diversity in knowledge and skills impact problem-solving?

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Can creativity be enhanced through teams and/or exposure to peers?

 

These four research questions frame projects in this track, pushing the boundaries of medical imaging and computational biology through artificial intelligence and algorithm development, extensive crowdsourcing work with NASA and other federal agencies, and using data science to help create a history of the partition of British India. See below for more information on each of the individual projects in this research track.

Related Publications

Karim R. Lakhani and Greta Friar. 2014. Bioinspiration at the San Diego Zoo. Harvard Business School Teaching Plan. Harvard Business School. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This teaching plan describes an 80 minute class plan for the case Bioinspiration at the San Diego Zoo.
Traditionally, human ingenuity has been considered the main source of innovation. However, recent research and the development of new products by firms as diverse as P&G, Speedo and Nike has shown that nature can provide inspiration for new innovative products. The San Diego Zoo, which has established a Center for Bioinspiration, defines bioinspiration as a methodology in which biological systems, processes, and elements are studied to draw analogies that can be applied to human design challenges in a sustainable manner.
Karim R. Lakhani, Johann Fuller, Volker Bilgram, and Greta Friar. 2014. Nivea (A). Harvard Business School Case. Harvard Business School. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The case describes the efforts of Beiersdorf, a worldwide leader in the cosmetics and skin care industries, to generate and commercialize new R&D through open innovation using external crowds and "netnographic" analysis. Beiersdorf, best known for its consumer brand Nivea, has a rigorous R&D process that has led to many successful product launches, but are there areas of customer need that are undervalued by the traditional process? A novel online customer analysis approach suggests untapped opportunities for innovation, but can the company justify a launch based on this new model of research?

Karim R. Lakhani, Vish V. Krishnan, and Ruth Page. 2014. Bioinspiration at the San Diego Zoo. Harvard Business School Multimedia/Video Case. Harvard Business School. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Traditionally, human ingenuity has been considered the main source of innovation. However, recent research and the development of new products by firms as diverse as P&G, Speedo and Nike has shown that nature can provide inspiration for new innovative products. The San Diego Zoo, which has established a Center for Bioinspiration, defines bioinspiration as a methodology in which biological systems, processes, and elements are studied to draw analogies that can be applied to human design challenges in a sustainable manner.

Karim Lakhani and Michael Tushman. 2014. Havas: Change Faster. Harvard Business School Teaching Plan. Harvard Business School. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This teaching plan describes an 80 minute class plan for the case Havas: Change Faster.
As of 2013, Havas was the 6th largest global advertising, digital, and communications group in the world. Headquartered in Paris, France, the group was highly decentralized, with semi-independent agencies in more than 100 countries offering a variety of services. The largest unit of Havas was Havas Worldwide, an integrated marketing communications agency headquartered in New York, NY. CEO David Jones was determined to make Havas Worldwide the most future-focused agency in the industry by becoming a leader in digital innovation. The case explores the tensions within the company as David Jones attempts to change the company to compete in an industry undergoing digital transformation. The case uses the example of the acquisition of Victors & Spoils, a crowdsourcing advertising agency, to examine internal reactions.
Karim R. Lakhani and Michael L. Tushman. 2014. Victors & Spoils: 'Born Open'. Harvard Business School Multimedia/Video Case. Harvard Business School. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Victors & Spoils (V&S), located in Boulder, Colorado, was the first advertising agency built on open innovation and crowdsourcing principles from the ground-up. V&S was co-founded in 2009 by John Winsor, Claudia Batten and Evan Fry, all former members of the advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B). V&S crowdsourced creative ideas for its ad campaigns through Agency Machine, its proprietary online platform. CEO John Winsor wanted to change the way that advertising was done, a difficult task in an industry entrenched in traditional models. The case follows Winsor as he prepares to scale his business and must determine the best way to do so. He has an offer from Havas, a leading global advertising company interested in acquiring V&S, which would give V&S access to unprecedented resources. However, Winsor and the V&S team have concerns about how their innovative processes may be affected by partnering with a large, traditional company.

Karim R. Lakhani, Wesley M. Cohen, Kynon Ingram, and Tushar Kothalkar. 2014. Netflix: Designing the Netflix Prize (B). Harvard Business School Case Supplement. Harvard Business School. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This supplemental case follows up on the Netflix Prize Contest described in Netflix: Designing the Netflix Prize (A). In the A case, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings must decide how to organize a crowdsourcing contest to improve the algorithms for Netflix's movie recommendation software. The B case follows the contest from the building of the platform in 2006 to the awarding of the highest prize in 2009. The B cause also considers the aftermath of the contest, and the issues of successfully implementing a winning idea from a contest.