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Using Your MBA as a Blueprint for Innovation

The business world possesses a rich heritage of innovation and entrepreneurship, from pioneering inventors like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford to Steve Jobs and other modern innovators. It should come as no surprise, then, that innovation helps facilitate entrepreneurship and subsequently empowers individuals to take charge of their economic prosperity¹. While MBA degrees have traditionally focused on business fundamentals such as finance, management and marketing, several MBA programs have incorporated elements of design thinking into their curricula². This design-focused approach enables working professionals to devise a range of innovative solutions to real-world business challenges².

Since leadership is such a crucial aspect of an MBA education, there are several ways in which business leaders can utilize their MBAs as a blueprint for innovation within their companies. According to Graham Weihmiller, CEO of worldwide networking organization BNI Global LLC, executives and other leaders “possess unique opportunities to embed creative thinking and collaboration into the core of their businesses,” regardless of whether they operate a restaurant, an accounting firm or an online social network³. Of course, innovation does not simply stem from opportunity alone – CEOs, entrepreneurs and project managers must act upon opportunities when they arise. Scott Cook, the founder of financial software powerhouse Intuit, encourages innovation by allowing his employees to devote 10 percent of their workweek to “developing new and innovative business solutions,” thinking outside the box to resolve the company’s dilemmas⁴.

While dedicating time to innovate during the workweek is crucial, brainstorming is another way leaders can use their MBA leadership skills to foster innovation³. Weihmiller not only encourages leaders to reserve time for “thinking creatively about business solutions,” but also notes that they should invite specialists from a variety of departments and functions to brainstorm simultaneously³. Ramapo’s MBA program provides students with ample brainstorming opportunities, be it through devising creative answers to case studies or ideating and implementing dynamic solutions to real-world business problems through its Capstone Consulting Project.

Not to be overlooked, of course, is the critical role that risk-taking plays in creating bastions of innovation in the workplace. Since MBA-educated leaders have often been encouraged to assess and take risks through case studies and experiential learning projects, they should instill that same passion for out-of-the-box thinking in their employees by incentivizing their creativity³. For example, Noah Weiss was a student interning at Fog Creek Software (now known as Glitch) when he proposed adding classified job ads to the company’s blog⁴. After young Mr. Weiss opened up a new revenue stream and brought more than $1 million into the company, his boss Joel Spolsky was so impressed that if Weiss were to return as a full-time employee, Spolsky would give him an ownership stake in the firm⁴. Additionally, leaders should celebrate each of their team’s successes, as rewarding their creativity will “encourage them to keep thinking outside of the box and sharing inventive ideas” for solving real-world business challenges³.

Ramapo College’s 20-month, 42-credit MBA degree program is designed for today’s working professionals, with key emphasis on leadership, critical thinking and experiential learning. With classes such as Becoming a 21st Century Leader and Leading Business in Contemporary Times, as well as practicum courses in entrepreneurship and creativity, students will develop a strong foundation for becoming dynamic leaders and continually fostering innovation within their companies.

Ramapo also encourages its MBA students to think outside the box through hands-on learning experiences such as the China Immersion Trip and Capstone Consulting Project.  During the spring of their second year in the MBA program, students team up with one of the College’s corporate partners – not only to develop their skill sets in a professional setting, but more importantly, to solve real-world business problems. Applying the knowledge they have learned in the classroom and during the optional China Immersion Trip, students must work individually and in teams to devise creative and innovative solutions to resolve the client’s dilemma. With challenges ranging from devising in-store merchandise restocking programs to crafting a market entry plan for an Italian electric scooter manufacturer, students possess plenty of opportunities to brainstorm and implement innovative ideas.

Prospective students interested in learning more about Ramapo’s Master of Business Administration program are strongly encouraged to visit for more information.

¹Source: Entrepreneur – “Why Innovation is Increasingly Becoming Critical to Entrepreneurship” by Anand Rajendran. Retrieved from

²Source: U.S. News and World Report – “No Art Background Necessary for Innovation-Focused Design M.B.A.’s” by Menachem Wecker. Retrieved from

³Source: BNI Global, LLC – “Top Tips to Foster Innovation in the Workplace” by Graham Weihmiller.  Retrieved from

⁴Source: – “8 Ways to Foster Innovation in Your Company” by Inc. Staff. Retrieved from

Categories: MBA