Online Class: Innovative Thinking

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Course Description

Welcome to "Innovative Thinking" where you will find ways to change your mindset, transform your ideas, and begin to look at the world in a new way. In twelve lessons you are invited to examine and investigate, analyze and synthesize characteristics of innovative thought and action.

Develop innovation skills, learn about different types of innovation and the key factors to make your organization an innovative place to work and grow new ideas. Leaders will discover how to implement these skills into the workplace, to train employees, and to assess the effectiveness of these changes.

Individuals will explore personal issues that stand in the way of more creative and innovative thinking. This course will guide each person toward new ventures, exciting pathways and supply methods for development of your natural strengths in exciting ways.

After taking "Innovative Thinking" you will feel the passion to take the next step in your career. After taking "Innovative Thinking" you will know how to lead others toward more success through different thought paths. Innovative thinking is essential to success in your personal life as well as your business. Get the skills, develop your confidence and become a more interesting person.

Goals and dreams don't happen without working to make them happen. Make this a first step in creating your future. Gain the knowledge and expertise you will need to move to a higher realm in your personal life or in your career, or in your organization. Protect your mind from becoming stagnate by grasping the skill of "Innovative Thinking."

Innovation has been studied forward and backward in many parts of the world, and across every kind of company and organization. The results reveal some exciting information for the human race. Innovative thinking can be learned. Though a few people are probably born with the genes that spawn such activity, most innovative entrepreneurs learned the skills and practiced them from a young age. 

Young children are typically innovative thinkers. They wonder, explore, ask questions, and have yet to learn about boundaries. As we grow we become more inhibited, less curious, and rarely spend time pretending. Pretending is a precursor to understanding how others think, places us into a different point of view, and take us into the world of "what if."

This first lesson introduces the aspects of what innovation is, and how it happens. Over the course of 12 lessons, you will develop a mental picture of an innovative thinker, the skills needed to cultivate innovation, and the aspects of running an innovative organization. New learning is written into each focus point; there are some conceptual questions for you to consider and give thought to; and there will be a section that will help you set up a notebook, which can be done electronically, or with old school methods. Then there will be questions for you to answer.

Focus Point 1: Innovative thinking expands the boundaries of the brain.

The brain has often been referred to as having a left and a right hemisphere. Researchers who studied the brain in the past noticed that the processing of language and more logical thinking were based in the left side of the brain, while the attention or creative processing was based in the right side. Theories called Right Brain/Left Brain flooded the media. It was often implied that if the right side of your brain was dominant, you would be more talented in creative activities. If you were left-brain dominant, then you were more focused on the logical aspects of life.

The latest studies using brain imaging have turned that thinking upside down. Today, it is clear that though certain processing does happen in one side or the other, the hemispheres are wired together in very intricate ways. The interactivity and impulses of neurons in the brain stream back and forth faster than any high speed Internet. Connections are constantly made, organized, reorganized, distributed and broadened as the brain is activated. The more the brain is exposed to different kinds of experiences, the more it develops higher level thinking. And that produces innovative thinking at its best.

Innovative thinking happens because both sides of the brain work together; a highly remarkable system of interchanges where all the information that is received through the body makes associations with information already stored there. So it goes without saying that if the body spreads its wings and experiences various and diverse encounters, the interchanges in the brain explode. The connections between pieces of information multiply exponentially causing an eclectic mass of creative thought.

A person who limits the amount of different kinds of experiences or events in his life, will limit the potential of the brain. Innovative thinking is the product of diverse living. You must work to move outside of your comfort zone, recognize that there is worth in any activity, and that the brain, the center of life, requires continuous activity to create. Your brain needs interaction with the world to expand its capabilities. When you stop living outside of yourself, your brain becomes stagnant.

Practicing the skills that build innovative thinking not only expands the capabilities of the brain, but the interaction between the processes in the brain also expand production of creative or innovative ideas. 

Focus Point #2: Diverse experiences are all around you.

So, to expand the brain which increases skills that lead to innovative thinking appears to be a simple thing. Expand your experiences and expand the brain. When a study out of Harvard questioned various successful innovative thinkers, they found that these people all had one thing in common: They tried everything they possibly could. From sports, to meditation, to exploration, these people did not let a single activity pass them by. They might be called science experiments with legs. They try anything. They go places, meet people, and open themselves up to the world and all it holds.

In fact, a person might expand adventures without much cost. Take things apart, put things together, experiment with new foods, learn about a different religion, take a class in sign language, join a bicycle club and let your body feel the natural physics of the earth's forces. Explore a forest, a cave, a river, a mountain, on foot, from the air, taking photos or writing poetry and expand your horizons. The trick is to encourage this in our children.

Given the right environment most children could grow up to become innovative thinkers. And for most of us, though we might begin later than childhood, it can still happen. That's why the medical community encourages older adults to work at using their brains. It is because brains can, and do, rebuild themselves constantly.  

Focus Point #3: Your brain cannot be bound by physical constraints.

One of the more interesting pieces of the research on how the brain works, explores the position of being restrained in one way or another. When a person is, or feels shackled to a place, a job, or by a physical condition, yet he pushes his thoughts toward questioning his plight, working out a plan to escape, searching for answers to his problems, then that person is developing innovative skills.

Some of the most creative thinkers in our world are people who have spent time in prison, disabled, or in poverty. It is human nature to break out of bonds. This experience can move one to reflection, innovation, and creative mental activity. The idea of releasing your mental energy across boundaries that constrain you can launch massive brain interactions that produce innovative thinking.

It sounds complicated but it is so simple. Think of a 1-year-old in a playpen. He wants someone to socialize with and he has had the experience of dropping toys outside his confined area and having someone pick them up and throw them back into the crib. So he drops a toy and his mother comes over. The next thing he does is throw all the toys out. He's found a way to get attention from the outside. This baby has created a way to cause others to interact with him. Kids naturally think in innovative ways, because they have so little control. In order to attain what they want, they have to get creative. Then, when they find out what works, look out. 

Focus Point #4: Innovative thinking is like a science activity.

When you have a task to come up with a way to make money, or maybe you are hired to turn a company around, or you want to redecorate your house, what do you do? Most people write down their ideas, make a plan, and move forward. Not a bad way to solve a problem. However, if you want to come up with something that will really be great, you have to change the way you think.

Think about your high school science class. When you did experiments you started with a question. Then you came up with a hypothesis about what you thought might be an answer to that question. Next, the fun began. You begin to try different things. You experiment. When one thing doesn't work, you try something else. Failure is part of the method toward learning how to get it right. It is too bad we can't push that idea out of the science lab and into the minds of other content areas. 

After many attempts that fail, you may finally come up with something that works. Real scientists sometimes spend their entire lives moving from one failure to another. In the process they often find they've asked the wrong question, or they are looking for the wrong kind of answer. Their brain hits the wall so many times they finally begin to search for a way over, around, or beneath that wall. This is exactly what creates innovative thinking – failure!

Most of the time, if a scientist does find an answer, he also finds many more questions, or he sees something along the way that is far more interesting. In other words, he stumbles along through his life, his job, searching for something -- and not even knowing what it is. A strange affair, and yet it is the very approach that has led humans to the higher order civilizations of the day. Think of explorers in the early 1500s. They took off into an ocean, unsure about their fate, which quite possibly could have been falling off the edge of the earth.

The process of discovery is open ended, without foundation, and entered into blindly. That discovery might not even be dangerous or active. It might be trying something that feels foreign, like meditation. And remember that failure will happen. If it doesn't happen, then you aren't pushing your limits. To bring about innovative thought, a person has to move into areas of risk. Risk of embarrassment, feeling stupid, unaccepted, or losing something can provoke creative thought. You don't have to risk your life or your livelihood in order to learn to think differently, but you have to move beyond what you know.

One of the most innovative thinkers is a Buddhist monk. Another grew up in the poor South and used her experiences to create an empire. You've heard of great ideas that began in the basement or the garage. A group of four innovative thinkers moved young people all over the world to let their hair grow below their ears and in their eyes. Innovative thinkers come in all shapes and sizes. What they have in common is the opportunity to explore the world, and the curiosity to do it. Some are forced into those experiences but others choose to step into them.

Individuals who allow themselves to move into this creative realm on a daily basis, make a decision to do so. They make every effort to broaden their vision. They reach out to make a difference in the world, to set it on fire, or to change the future. Without them, the world would be primitive. The rest of us simply sit and ride on the backs of the waves they create. Many of us think we would never be capable of what these entrepreneurs do. But we are. If we practice changing the way we do things, and really experience life in unexpected custom.


Tom decided to go to college and study business. He didn't know what he wanted to do, but he figured a business degree would provide advantages. Tom was organized, he planned out everything he did and left nothing to chance.

On the other hand, his friend Bill couldn't decide what to do after graduation from high school. He didn't know what he wanted to do with his life at all. He enjoyed playing in his band, but they didn't make much money. His parents urged him to take a year off school and explore the world. He decided to work two jobs besides the band gigs to sock away as much money as he could. He threw caution to the wind and went to Europe with his band buddies to earn their way across the continent. 

Tom was flabbergasted over Bill's decisions or lack of any. He asked Bill where he'd stay. Bill told him they'd sleep on the trains or get a cheap hostel. Tom told him about the horror stories he'd heard about hostels. He just couldn't figure out why Bill being so irresponsible. It seemed crazy to Tom.

They went off in their own directions and met up again at their five year reunion. Tom had graduated from college and worked for a big insurance firm in the city. Bill flew in from France where he started his own business with musicians, scheduling them to play all over the world. He was speaking fluent French and had a flair about him that seemed so foreign and strange to Tom. Bill was very successful and he had only taken a few online business courses over the years. But most of all Bill, was excited about his life. Tom was happy but lacked the excitement.

Tom was not an innovative thinker. Bill was.

  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • 6 Months to Complete
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  • Start Anytime
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  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

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Lesson 1: What Is Innovation All About?

This first lesson introduces the aspects of what innovation is, and how it happens. 13 Total Points
  • Complete: Lesson 1 Assignment
  • Complete: Notebook Activity
  • Complete: Exam 1

Lesson 2: Three Main Types of Innovation

In the world of business strategists, different methods of innovative thinking have been grouped into three basic categories. 11 Total Points
  • Review 3 Articles: 15 Types of innovation; Why Sustainability Is Now the Key Driver of Innovation; Double Down, Explode, Bridge and Breakout: The innovation options
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Assignment
  • Complete: Exam 2

Lesson 3: Tools and Exercises to Increase Innovation

The three basic tools for innovative thinking are brainstorming, development, and implementation. These depend upon each other for success in innovation. 11 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: The Brain Exercise That Boosts Creativity; 12 Exercises for Creativity and Innovation in Business
  • Complete: Lesson 3 Assignment
  • Complete: Exam 3

Lesson 4: Idea Champions, Idea Incubators, New Venture Teams, and Skunk Works

In this lesson, the focus is on the structures for people who build teams and bring others into their sanctuary of creativity, innovation, and drive to succeed. 11 Total Points
  • Review 3 Articles: The Heart of Innovation; An Investigation of New Venture Teams in Emerging Businesses; The Idea Incubator Goes to Campus
  • Complete: Lesson 4 Assignment
  • Complete: Exam 4

Lesson 5: How to Develop Innovative Thinking Skills

The interesting part of learning to become innovative is that you awaken to life. Those who build the skills of play, asking questions, learning to fail, be uncomfortable, and heighten sensory awareness will live a deeper more meaningful life. 10 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: 5 Techniques That Build Creative Thinking Skills; How to Build Your Innovation Skills
  • Complete: Exam 5

Lesson 6: Ten Ways to Generate Ideas

Expand your thinking in every way, without any boundaries. Find the syncopation in the rhythm of life. 11 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Generating New Ideas; Seven Strategies for Generating Ideas
  • Complete: Lesson 6 Assignment
  • Complete: Exam 6

Lesson 7: Five Ways to Narrow Down Ideas

After an innovative team gets through the brainstorming phase, they have to narrow it all down into one idea. The issue is to turn the team from divergent thinking to convergent thinking. 11 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: To Find Your Next Great Business Idea, Narrow Your Focus; Home-Based Business-Narrowing Down Your Ideas
  • Complete: Lesson 7 Assignment
  • Complete: Exam 7

Lesson 8: Steps to Further Refining Ideas

In refining ideas, the development team must be aware, listen, observe, and take notes. The team must know that their job follows the idea into conception and beyond. 11 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: A Comprehensive 7-Step Process for Launching Great Ideas; Entrepreneurship Campus
  • Complete: Lesson 8 Assignment
  • Complete: Exam 8

Lesson 9: Key Factors for an Innovative Organization

Key factors for organization innovation include the attitude of the company, its leaders, and its board of directors. 1 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: The Keys to Creating an Innovative Organization; Innovation's Nine Critical Success Factors
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment

Lesson 10: 15 Barriers to Organizational Innovation

Thinking about those many innovators who risked their ego, money, time, and so much more to bring the world into this technological age is empowering. Humans who fail to create, fail to live. Companies that fail to innovate, fail to thrive. 10 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: The Hidden Barriers to Innovation; Ten Organizational Barriers that Limit Innovation
  • Complete: Exam 10

Lesson 11: Implementation and Assessment of Innovative Ideas

In this lesson, implementation and assessment will be looked at throughout this entire process, from idea inception, to the birth of that product on the store shelves. 0 Total Points
  • Review 3 Articles: How to Evaluate Ideas; How to ? and How Not to ? Evaluate Innovation; Innovation: It's Not The Idea, It's What You Do With It

Lesson 12: Characteristics of Innovative Managers

The characteristics of innovative managers come together to support the skills they have developed. 62 Total Points
  • Take Poll: Your Opinion Matters: Course Rating
  • Take Survey: Course Comments
  • Complete: Lesson 12 Assignment
  • Complete: Exam 12
  • Complete: The Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Define what innovation is.
  • Describe three main types of innovation.
  • Describe tools and exercises to increase innovation.
  • Recognize idea champions, idea incubators, new venture teams, and skunk works.
  • Summarize how to develop innovative thinking skills.
  • Describe ten ways to generate ideas.
  • Describe five ways to narrow down ideas.
  • Summarize steps to further refining ideas.
  • Determine key factors for an innovative organization.
  • Describe 15 barriers to organizational innovation.
  • Describe implementation and assessment of innovative ideas, and
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

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Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: Innovative Thinking
Course Number: 8900339
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Course Type: Professional Development (Self-Paced, Online Class)
CEU Value: 0.7 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: Dr. Dennis Mithaug
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Duration: Continuous: Enroll anytime!
Course Fee: $50.00 (no CEU Certification) || with Online CEU Certification: $75.00

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