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BroadWeeks highlight creativity, innovation

For three days between their half-semester courses, the Broad College’s Full-Time MBA students participated in courses designed to bring out their creativity and willingness to innovate. This fall’s BroadWeek, held October 15-17, 2014, took each class of MBA students through concentrated workshops featuring hands-on activities and conversations with practicing professionals.

First-year MBAs experienced “Here Be Dragons: Building Creative Confidence.” This course exposed students to improvisational theater, design thinking, and creative confidence through collaboration and team-based exercises. The program was made possible through a historic collaboration among MSU’s Department of Art, Art History, and Design; Department of Theater; and Full-Time MBA Program.

BroadWeek students practice their improvisational skills
BroadWeek students practice their improvisational skills
Wall of sticky notes during BroadWeek brainstorming BroadWeek students participate in massive brainstorming exercises
Kai Knight Kai Knight performs at BroadWeek

Each morning, students participated in professional-actor-led improvisational exercises designed to promote networking, quick-reaction thinking, collaboration, and a sense of user experience.

“The improv has been helpful in making me more creative and also more comfortable with myself and the mistakes that I make,” said Ivy Ulrey (MBA ’16). “Because I got to go through improv training, now if I stumble with my words, say in an interview, I know how to shake it off and get back to the important material.”

Each afternoon, students participated in intensive workshops built to teach design principles in practical business contexts. These workshops resulted in groups of students producing pitches to convey ideas, practical business products and services, and ways to improve MSU’s student experience.

“The emphasis of our MBA program is on building creative and innovative competencies that employers need to solve challenging, fuzzy problems today, and also preparing our students for jobs that do not now exist, but will, 10 years from now,” said Glenn Omura, acting associate dean for MBA and master’s programs.

Second-year students’ BroadWeek focused on “Innovative Entrepreneurship.” The students partnered with Spartan Innovations, FRIB, and the Brain Cancer Institute to turn ideas emerging from MSU research into pitch-ready business concepts.

The experience began with a talk with Kai Knight, a musician, composer, and innovator from Stanford University’s design school, about “innovation at intersections”—the way that creative power comes from seemingly disconnected topics coming together.

Students then visited Bizdom, an entrepreneurial startup hub in Detroit, and Benzinga, a financial media startup that provides high-quality, first-responder data to Wall Street traders, empowering them to make better-informed decisions. Their firsthand discussion of the process of turning an idea into a functioning business inspired the students.

“We all have ideas we want to fulfill,” said Vrushali Gulhane (MBA ’15). “Now we know who to talk to.”

“The broader application is understanding where these companies came from,” said Jillian Peters (MBA ’15). “We got to interact with people who are doing it. It gives me lots of respect for the companies that made it.”

Kanishk Sharma (MBA ’15) came to see entrepreneurship as “a way of thinking, taking complete ownership of a problem, doing things on your own. It’s a platform to see: this is how it actually works.”

“Small businesses are the middle-class creators of America. We need people willing to take that risk,” said Paul Zielinski (MBA ’15). “Part of being an MBA is being type A, risk tolerant, having a sense of adventure and the unknown. We’re expected to be the difference-makers, the job creators of the new generation,” he said.

The course ended with students pitching their business ideas in a competition.

“Here at the Broad College of Business, we believe that creativity begets innovation, and innovation is a key component of business success,” said F. Sam Carter, associate professor of marketing.  “BroadWeek is designed to teach our MBA students how to operate in that creative and innovative problem-solving mindset.”

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