February 19, 2016 at 12:15pm
Dane Lisser

Idea Storming

Idea Storming

Dr. Alex Bruton is an innographer, or as he defines it, someone who helps people learn how to innovate and create big value. His approach is summed up in one question, how do we grow as innovators? Bruton recently asked that question to a cohort of Millikin students during a workshop he hosted that featured sessions on business concepts and entrepreneurship.

Bruton worked with over 25 Millikin students, Feb. 12-13, who are enrolled in the Foundations of Entrepreneurship course through the Tabor School of Business. The course focuses on understanding the process of creativity and opportunity recognition and introduces the students to the meaning and implications of business ownership.

Bruton began his career as an engineer, inventing and developing products and departments. He went on to become an entrepreneur of social and technology businesses. He also became a tenured professor of entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Calgary, during which he was named the Entrepreneurial Educator of the Year in Canada. He earned a Ph.D. in engineering and since that time earned a degree in marketing and innovation. Bruton has led the design of award-winning learning and development experiences for boosting creativity, developing innovators and unlocking the power of strategic ideation.

Idea Storming

It was just a few years ago that Bruton decided to start an open education and innovation design firm called The Innographer, through which he's able to work with people, organizations and institutions from all over the world.

"It's more about the experience of innovation and entrepreneurship," Bruton said. "It's about learning it, experiencing it, trying to tap into the mindset and building a tool belt that the students can apply in parts of their lives."

During the workshop the students engaged in an activity called Idea Storming where the students diverged and separately came up with business ideas and then quickly converged on a set of ideas as one group. The students also engaged in a venture design session where they designed new business concepts and other concepts of personal passion.

Idea Storming

"In the end, the students have a concept in mind and implemented," Bruton said. "Their concepts will be highly impactful in the community around them, eminently feasible and ideally inspiring to them and their team members."

Another session the students took part in was called Napkin to Revenues. The students learned how to take an idea from the back-of-a-napkin conceptual stage to going into the community and applying the concept.

Julie Shields, director of Millikin's Center for Entrepreneurship, saw many similarities between Bruton's teachings and Millikin's Performance Learning approach. "Alex's approach aligns really well with what we're doing at Millikin. We use a lot of his tools in the classroom and integrate those tools in our curriculum as well."

Bruton noted the importance of helping the students become highly proficient with certain skill sets when it comes to developing business concepts. "It's about helping the students build and assess themselves with these skills and competencies."

Idea Storming