In the News

Teaching Design Thinking to Solve Real World Problems

Steelcase

Forget traditional lecture halls and classes filled with students from the same program. Appalachian State University is doing something different. The university offers a course called AppLab where students from different programs across campus are put into multidisciplinary teams and challenged to work on real world problems. This class uses research, ideation and design thinking to solve issues for local nonprofits and organizations.

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App State's new how space is the university's latest evolution in innovative, interdisciplinary education

WNC Education

“Solving difficult problems—what we call ‘wicked problems’—requires multiple perspectives,” says Assistant Professor of Management Mark Lewis, one of the guiding forces behind Appalachian State University’s newly expanded AppLab program. AppLab is a design-focused learning model that gives students a diverse array of tools for solving complex challenges faced by clients in real-world scenarios. Now, thanks to a $65,000 grant from Steelcase Education, a branch of the Michigan-based furniture company, the program is setting up shop in a brand new home.

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Appalachian State University earns Active Learning Center Grant to support AppLab

Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University has earned a $65,000 Active Learning Center Grant to support AppLab from Steelcase Education, an organization whose grant program aids teachers and students by creating an environment that encourages engagement, collaboration and creativity.
AppLab, part of Appalachian's Innovation and Design Cooperative (IDC), is a problem-based learning model where interdisciplinary teams of faculty and students work with community and industry partners to solve real-world problems through design thinking.

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Business faculty continue work on AppLab, a problem-based learning model to solve real-world issues

Appalachian State University

Faculty members at Appalachian State University are continuing efforts in 2016 on AppLab, a problem-based learning model focused on solving real-world issues through the "Design Thinking" process.
Design thinking is a formal method for practical, creative resolution of problems and creation of solutions, with the intent of an improved future result. In this regard it is a form of solution-based, or solution-focused thinking – starting with a goal (a better future situation) instead of solving a specific problem. By considering both present and future conditions and parameters of the problem, alternative solutions may be explored simultaneously. This approach differs from the analytical scientific method, which begins with thoroughly defining all the parameters of the problem in order to create a solution.

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Blogs

Innovate or Die: Nine Suggestions for Resilient Organizations

Mark Lewis

Corporate graveyards are filled with companies that lacked the capabilities and culture that enable innovation. A recent General Electric commercial, “Ideas are Scary,” relates to this topic and represents more brilliant work from the famous advertising agency BBDO. If you have not seen it, click here. The message they are delivering is an important one: Innovation is hard work and only happens when those half-baked (and often ugly) ideas are properly nurtured into value creating innovations.
Given that the commercial starts out using birth as a metaphor, I wondered how such a perspective could be applied to better understand how organizations can improve their ability to innovate. A few things related to making ideas and raising innovations came to mind.

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Lessons from U.S. Healthcare Reform: Key Insights for Building a Culture of Innovation

Mark Lewis

“Repeal and replace” was a chant often used throughout the recent election cycle and has continued to be used in post-election discourse. Though the frustration driving this thinking is real and must be addressed, the way we collectively approach healthcare innovation in the U.S. will impact our future success in this area and others. Consequently, policy makers (who participate in future endeavors related to U.S. healthcare reform) should pause for a second and reflect on a few key points that are crucial for driving innovation in organizations and society. We need to rebuild a culture of innovation in this country. If we wrap such endeavors (like healthcare reform) in a blanket of negativity, we stifle our collective ability to challenge the status quo and transform our institutions in the future, something that is sorely needed to remain competitive in a global world.

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Selected Research

Design thinking: breaking fixation for new relationships between organizations

Mark Lewis, Scott Hayward, Rob Hornyak

The purpose of this paper is to show how design thinking can be a useful approach for helping interorganizational partnerships create higher levels of value creation for both parties. By integrating concepts related to human cognition, contracts and performance, the authors show how interorganizational relationships often hit a brick wall. The authors show how they can break through such obstacles in a systematic way using design thinking.

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Managing and fostering creativity: An integrated approach

Mark Lewis, Richard Elaver

After years of seeking students with leadership skills, companies today are putting similar levels of emphasis on those with creative capabilities. Such companies need creative people to help solve their most pressing problems, and to help generate new sources of value creation for firms that have suffered years of stagnant growth.

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The Hazards of Sole Sourcing Relationships: Challenges, Practices, and Insights

Mark Lewis, Scott Hayward, Vijay Kasi

The article focuses on the challenges, practices and insights related to sole sourcing relationships. It presents a theoretical explanation of the perils of single-sourcing relationships and boundary drift including drivers and consequences. It discusses a methodology for re-designing sourcing strategy of business firms. It highlights several factors that affect the single-source relationship including trust, efficiency and asset ownership.

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