Sustaining Innovation: Staying Out of the "Good Enough" Rut

Concurrent Session 9

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Walking the line between innovation and inertia: a discussion on surviving beyond the start-up phase and achieving long term viability. 

Archivist Notes

Extended Abstract

As online and blended programs have established a secure foothold in the educational space over the last decade, program models, ideas, innovations, and conversations that once were new have begun to reach middle-age. As a result, the online learning sector and its practitioners are challenged to keep innovating while transitioning into a more established phase of existence. This transition brings challenges and opportunities, and raises countless questions for our consideration.

Dartmouth College's blended Master of Health Care Delivery Science (MHCDS) Program was launched in 2010 as the institution's first foray into online education. This launch phase was characterized by many of the hallmarks of start-up organizations: A small, highly-motivated, self-directed team; unconventional and flexible working conditions; rapid innovation through trial and error; a high-stakes atmosphere of risk and reward.

Now in its fifth year, the program has begun to shift from its start-up identity to a more established entity. Having achieved institutional recognition, participant satisfaction and a sustainable applicant pool, this new phase brings with it the security of success and experience. With that success and experience, however, come new challenges, questions and opportunities. Among them, how to keep innovating under drastically different conditions. In this facilitated conversation, participants will explore the challenges of sustaining a successful start-up beyond its initial phase into long term viability.

Drawing on Dartmouth's Master of Health Care Delivery Science program as an example, the facilitators will probe the tensions that exist in this transition:

What does it take to transition from start-up to established entity?
How do we continue to innovate while maintaining a stable identity?
How do we manage the vulnerabilities that come with success?
What conditions drive innovation, and what conditions squelch it?

In small table facilitated conversations, participants will:
Identify and discuss challenges and questions related to transitioning from a start-up to a more established entity
Describe and discuss their experiences with this type of transition
Identify tools, processes and key questions for a program or organization to consider at this stage to facilitate a successful transition
List key qualities and behaviors of entities that have successfully made this transition
Analyze the drivers and barriers to innovation