Value This! Innovation Tournament

Concurrent Session 8

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Doctoral students working in blending learning environment are called upon to form teams to solve a difficult problem, requiring a creative solution. Student teams participate in an eight week Innovation Tournament to experience the entrepreneurial process.  Successful completion of the challenge requires creativity, teamwork, execution, and value creation.


Dr. Marilou Ryder serves as Associate Professor of Education in the Ed.D program for Organizational Leadership at Brandman University, part of the Chapman University System. Marilou holds a master’s degree from Syracuse University and received her doctorate in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne in 1998. Active in dialogue on educational policy issues Dr. Ryder has worked with groups statewide to promote public education. Her leadership roles have included participation in educational women’s mentoring groups and serving as a board member for various educational foundations. In 2007, Dr. Ryder was named “Top Ten Business Professional Women of the Year” for her involvement in local community affairs. Dr. Ryder’s scholarly interests range widely, from the history of women in leadership to that of mentoring teachers to become future school leaders. Her dissertation entitled, “The Impact of Male Gender Dissonance on Women’s Potential Eligibility for Advancement to the Position of Superintendent” was later published as a popular book, entitled, The SeXX Factor: Breaking the Unwritten Codes that Sabotage Personal and Professional Lives, by New Horizon Press in 2003. She co-authored with Dr. Tamerin Capellino a publication entitled 92 Tips from the Trenches: How to Stay in the Game as an Educational Leader (2014 Delmar Publishing). Her most recent publication is Rules of the Game: How to Win a Job in Educational Leadership (Delmar Publishing, Second Edition, 2017). An accomplished presenter, Dr. Ryder speaks extensively throughout California delivering lively and engaging presentations entitled, Boost Your Promotion Quotient, Smart Interview Habits, Gain the Competitive Edge, and Breaking the Unwritten Codes that Sabotage Personal and Professional Lives. Throughout her career, Dr. Ryder has been an energetic and determined advocate for scholarly learning and practice and is deeply committed to working with men and women to gain access to top leadership roles.

Extended Abstract

IDEO, the widely admired and award winning design and development firm that brought the world the Apple Mouse, the Polaroid instant camera and hundreds of other cutting edge products believes great projects are achieved by great teams (Kelly, 2001).  IDEO employs what they call Hot Teams or Hot Groups to accomplish their goals.  Hot project teams start with a clear goal and a serious deadline.

Kelly states the following about IDEO’s Hot Groups: The hot group knows that it might disband after the goal is reached and reform the next week to slay another dragon.  The difference between a dull group and a hot group… It’s the difference [for IDEO] between administrating a trust fund and making an MTV video… hot groups are infused with purpose and personality. (p. 70)

As evolving transformational leaders our students will be called upon to form teams within their organizations to solve difficult problems, often requiring creative solutions.  Students will also be charged with innovative thinking and project delivery.  In this assignment, VALUE THIS! students experience, first hand, what it’s like to participate in a HOT TEAM, very much like one that IDEO employs on a consistent basis.  At the Fall [face to face] Immersion students are assigned to a HOT TEAM and engage in an exciting Innovation Tournament, called VALUE THIS!  The work virtually throughout the eight week period to complete the task and then meet face-to-face to take the project out into the community.   The final project is then communicated through a 3-minute student made video that details the project and its value to society.  Students are charged with communicating how they used a comprehensive and effective process to identify a significant social or environmental problem and the importance of the problem to society.  The video also describes who will benefit from the project, how the solution is innovative  and what process was used to select the problem. 

Each HOT TEAM is charged with coming up with an idea for a new venture using an everyday object that will create wealth or change the world by creating the most value possible.  Students are encouraged to come up with a product, service, experiences, or anything else they can imagine.  Students are free to act locally or globally, and to think small or BIG. 

Object is announced at Immersion 

That's a good question and one of the toughest parts of this challenge!  It’s the student’s  job to create value out of almost nothing at all and  to decide how to do it. Each Hot Team team has to decide how they will measure the value created and how to communicate that value to others.

There is a wealth of social and environmental challenges facing our world and potentially in our communities.  Students are charged with considering problems which span a wide spectrum and include issues such as:

  1. Ensuring environmental sustainability
  2. Peacekeeping, Conflict Prevention, Combating Terrorism
  3. Global Infectious Diseases
  4. Digital Divide
  5. Biotechnology Rules
  6. Global Financial Architecture
  7. Illegal Drugs
  8. Trade, Investment, and Competition Rules
  9. Intellectual Property Rights
  10. E-Commerce Rules
  11. International Labor and Migration Rules
  12. Promoting gender equality and empowering woman
  13. Reducing child mortality rates
  14. Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger

An Innovation tournament is a fun and effective way to experience the entrepreneurial process, including seizing opportunities, leveraging limited resources, and bringing ideas to life (Global Innovation Tournament Toolkit).  Specifically this tournament aims to:

  • Allow participants to practice entrepreneurship;
  • Teach and promote teamwork and creativity;
  • Provide participants opportunities to reflect upon a leader’s role in creativity and innovation;
  • Unleash personal creativity;
  • Focus on FUN and friendly competition.


  1. To create as much value as possible using an everyday object.
  2. To develop an idea for a new venture
  3. To measure the value you create in a reasonable way.
  4. To report on the idea and value created in a creative and impactful 3-minute video.

This virtual tournament is modeled in part after other tournaments and challenges, such as Stanford’s global innovation tournament however, this tournament is accomplished mostly virtually.  The key learning objective is to gain a deep understanding of what it’s like to create something significant out of almost nothing at all – a fundamental skill relevant to any career.  This tournament shows that the spark of a great idea simply comes from looking at an ordinary object in an extraordinary way, an entrepreneurial way. Past challenges include creating as much value from a pack of post-it-notes, water bottles, rags, or rubber bands. Successful completion of the challenge requires creativity, teamwork, execution, and value creation.   Student work in virtual teams throughout the eight week project which culminates in a 3 minute Video that details the project and value.