Creativity & Problem-Solving

Crowdsourcing Memories from the 1947 Partition of British India

Working with the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute at Harvard University, this project aims to collect and analyze oral histories and memories of the 1947 Partition of British India with a focus on minority voices. Aspects of this project include gathering discrete historical data such as locations and descriptions of refugee camps; mapping geographical locations... Read more about Crowdsourcing Memories from the 1947 Partition of British India

City Challenges

LISH researchers are designing experiments wrapped around NYU GovLab’s City Challenges. The City Challenges program aims to use competitions and coaching to solve urban problems. See here for information on a prior challenge.

Dental Image Recognition System

In collaboration with Charite-Berlin Hospital, we are studying the drivers of variability in doctor performance when diagnosing ailments in dental x-ray images, and how multiple human-labelings of the same data can yield more reliable diagnoses of ailments. These studies aim to provide new insights on improving clinical care and... Read more about Dental Image Recognition System

Karim R. Lakhani and Meredith L. Liu. 2012. Innovation at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Harvard Business School Case. Harvard Business School. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Following its 2011 win of the Broad Prize, the most prestigious award available for urban school districts, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools must hire a new superintendent. This case examines the context of a large urban public school district and how its Board of Education and superintendent were able to create an environment that successfully fostered innovation, using a variety of tools including policy, structure, tools, and culture. It explores the particular constraints and barriers of public education and how the district leadership navigated them. Covers issues such as the resistance to innovation in the public sector, the importance of leadership in building a culture of innovation, the use of autonomy and accountability to encourage individual creativity, the difficulty of managing multiple stakeholders, and the challenge of sustaining improvements over changes in leadership.

Karim R. Lakhani, Anne-Laure Fayard, Natalia Levina, and Greta Friar. 2015. OpenIDEO. Harvard Business School Teaching Notes. Harvard Business School. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Teaching Note for HBS Case 612-066.

The case describes OpenIDEO, an online offshoot of IDEO, one of the world's leading product design firms. OpenIDEO leverages IDEO's innovative design process and an online community to create solutions for social issues. Emphasis is placed on comparing the IDEO and OpenIDEO processes using real-world project examples. For IDEO this includes the redesign of Air New Zealand's long haul flights. For OpenIDEO this includes increasing bone marrow donor registrations and improving personal sanitation in Ghana. In addition, the importance of fostering a collaborative online environment is explored.

Karim R. Lakhani. 2015. Innovating with the Crowd. Harvard Business School Case. Harvard Business School. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This note outlines the structure and content of a seven-session module that is designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of innovating with the "crowd." The module has been taught in a second year elective course at the Harvard Business School on "Digital Innovation and Transformation" and is aimed at students that already have an understanding of how to structure an innovation process inside of a company. The module expands the students' innovation toolkit by exposing them to the theory and practice of extending the innovation process to external participants.

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, Hila Lifshitz-Assaf, and Michael L. Tushman. 2013. “Open Innovation and Organizational Boundaries: Task Decomposition, Knowledge Distribution and the Locus of Innovation.” In Handbook of Economic Organization: Integrating Economic and Organizational Theory, edited by Anna Grandori, Pp. 355-382. Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This chapter contrasts traditional, organization- centered models of innovation with more recent work on open innovation. These fundamentally different and inconsistent innovation logics are associated with contrasting organizational boundaries and organizational designs. We suggest that when critical tasks can be modularized and when problem- solving knowledge is widely distributed and available, open innovation complements traditional innovation logics. We induce these ideas from the literature and with extended examples from Apple, the National Aeronautics and Astronomical Agency (NASA) and LEGO. We suggest that task decomposition and problem- solving knowledge distribution are not deterministic but are strategic choices. If dynamic capabilities are associated with innovation streams, and if different innovation types are rooted in contrasting innovation logics, there are important implications for firm boundaries, design and identity.

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. 2011. Myelin Repair Foundation: Accelerating Drug Discovery Through Collaboration (TN). Harvard Business School Teaching Notes. Harvard Business School. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Teaching Note for HBS Case 610-074.

This case presents the Myelin Repair Foundation's accelerated research collaboration model for drug discovery. It highlights the challenges of building a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional research collaboration that is attempting to create a treatment for multiple sclerosis based on a novel scientific approach. The case provides details on how norms of academic research and intellectual property had to be updated to enable collaboration. The current dilemma facing the CEO and COO of the foundation relates to setting strategic priorities for research so that a treatment for MS can be ready in the next ten years. The strategic choices need to account for the complexities of drug discovery, the uncertainty of commercial partners' interest in the therapeutic approach and the constrained donor-based fundraising environment.

Karim R. Lakhani. 2011. (A) (TN). Harvard Business School Teaching Notes. Harvard Business School. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Teaching Note for HBS Case 608-170, a firm connecting R&D labs of large organizations to diverse external solvers through innovation contests, has to decide if it will enable collaboration in its community. Case covers the basics of a distributed innovation system works and the advantages of having external R&D. Links how concepts of open source are applied to a non-software setting. Describes the rationale for participation by solvers in innovation contests and the benefits that accrue to firms. Raises the issue if a community can be shifted to collaboration when competition was the basis of prior interaction.

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.
Christoph Riedl, Richard Zanibbi, Marti A. Hearst, Siyu Zhu, Michael Menietti, Jason Crusan, Ivan Metelsky, and Karim R. Lakhani. 2016. “Detecting Figures and Part Labels in Patents: Competition-Based Development of Image Processing Algorithms.” International Journal on Document Analysis and Recognition (IJDAR), 19, 2, Pp. 155-172. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Most United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patent documents contain drawing pages which describe inventions graphically. By convention and by rule, these drawings contain figures and parts that are annotated with numbered labels but not with text. As a result, readers must scan the document to find the description of a given part label. To make progress toward automatic creation of ‘tool-tips’ and hyperlinks from part labels to their associated descriptions, the USPTO hosted a monthlong online competition in which participants developed algorithms to detect figures and diagram part labels. The challenge drew 232 teams of two, of which 70 teams (30 %) submitted solutions. An unusual feature was that each patent was represented by a 300-dpi page scan along with an HTML file containing patent text, allowing integration of text processing and graphics recognition in participant algorithms. The design and performance of the top-5 systems are presented along with a system developed after the competition, illustrating that the winning teams produced near state-of-the-art results under strict time and computation constraints. The first place system used the provided HTML text, obtaining a harmonic mean of recall and precision (F-measure) of 88.57 % for figure region detection, 78.81 % for figure regions with correctly recognized figure titles, and 70.98 % for part label detection and recognition. Data and source code for the top-5 systems are available through the online UCI Machine Learning Repository to support follow-on work by others in the document recognition community.