Can Innovation Be Equitable?

Headshot of smiling young woman with red hair and lipstickBy Tamsyn Riddle, Student Co-Lead, Access for Every Student Domain

When the word “innovation” comes up, it usually refers to technological changes that make life more convenient: computers, smart phones, driverless cars. In equity-related classes, we often talk about the inequalities between the people who can afford such new innovations and the majority of the world, and we criticize innovation for focusing too much on capitalist notions of efficiency.

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What is Design Thinking?

What is Design Thinking?

By AlexHeadshot of woman with blonde curly hair in a blue dressandra Rodney, Student Innovation Leader, Operations Team

In September I introduced you to the Innovation Hub project and explained how we are working on developing innovative solutions to improve the student experience at the University of Toronto. In this post I’ll describe the method we are using to innovate. At the Innovation Hub we are using a “design thinking” approach. This approach has its roots at IDEO, David Kelley’s global design firm, where techniques used to design products were applied to the design of organizational operations and services. You may not have heard of IDEO but you’ve likely been in contact with their design innovations. Among other things that IDEO has patents on are the Apple mouse, laptop computer hinges, and the stand-up toothpaste bottle. Continue reading “What is Design Thinking?”

Innovation & Entrepreneurship – A Place to Start

Headshot of smiling woman with red hair and glasses in blue and white striped top

By Carey Toane, UofT’s Entrepreneurship Librarian & Innovation Hub Ambassador

I hear a lot about innovation in my work. As entrepreneurship librarian at U of T, I work with startups on campus, whether they are taking a course, or enrolled in one of nine campus linked accelerators, or commercializing their graduate research, or working away in stealth mode in their dorms. These students are highly motivated, taking on the “drinking from a firehose” experience of starting a company on top of regular studies and other responsibilities. It’s incredibly inspiring to hear about their ideas and help them find information to support their pitch decks. Continue reading “Innovation & Entrepreneurship – A Place to Start”

Beyond Traditional Leadership – Leading for Creativity

Headshot of smiling woman with red hair in grey topBy Julia Smeed, Innovation Hub Project Lead

I was inspired this morning by Linda Hill, a Management professor and Co-Author of Collective Genius.  As I think about how we move forward in the Innovation Hub, I found myself nodding through her entire TED talk about how to manage for collective creativity.  Building the right team and fostering a safe and open community is how we will move ahead.  Take a look at the video and feel free to share your thoughts!

Do you want to be part of our creative & innovative team?  Learn more and join our team!

Empathy & Design

Headshot of smiling woman with red hair in grey topBy Julia Smeed, Innovation Hub Project Lead

In order to realize the Innovation Hub vision to create a seamless student experience for at the University of Toronto, we must gain a deeper understanding about the current student experience.  One way that we might approach this is using human-centred design, a creative problem solving approach using inspiration, ideation and implementation.  This approach will help us to empathize with students to best understand their experiences.

Brene Brown explains the difference between empathy and sympathy in the video below, highlighting that “empathy drives connection”:

What might we achieve for University of Toronto students if we always took an empathetic approach towards understanding the student experience?

In their article, Empathy on the Edge, IDEO experts Katja Battarbee, Jane Fulton Suri and Suzanne Gibbs Howard explain how they are using empathy based research techniques to better understand complex issues their customers face and uncover insights for innovation.  Their designers go to great lengths to put themselves in others’ shoes (like the chest waxing experience on page 5 – ouch!) so that they can understand challenges intimately and approach design from the standpoint of having had a lived experience that was similar to the experience of their customers.

The Innovation Hub will take a human-centred, empathy-based approach to uncovering insights for innovation!

Celebrating Failure

Headshot of smiling woman with red hair in grey topBy Julia Smeed, Innovation Hub Project Lead

The University of Toronto is home to some of Canada’s most famous research, discoveries and inventions.  It’s important to remember, however, that these successes were often preceded by many failures. The Innovation Hub seeks to create a culture where failure is allowed, and even encouraged in the creative process.  Our failures spark curiosity and allow us to learn.  Failure propels us towards innovation!

There are so many great reasons to fail!  Just take the advice of businessman, engineer & inventor Elon Musk:

Elon Musk Quote: "Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough" #CNBC25 - Elon Musk in an interview with Fast Company.

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The Shopping Cart of The Future…

IDEO is a global design firm that takes a human-centered approach to designing products and services.  They even designed the first computer mouse for Apple in 1980!  While this video is dated, it’s a great way to see the IDEO design process in action.  Enjoy watching IDEO designers build the shopping cart of the future.  What can we learn that will help us design the U of T student experience of the future?