Although the Oxford room in the Van der Goot building can accommodate all eight hundred registered students, today there were only three. Lecturer Jasmien Khattab already expected that there would probably be far fewer students, as this was the last lecture. The big screen behind the lecturer showed ‘The big Innovation Management quiz’ in capital letters. Khattab covered the entire course material in the quiz. “This quiz allows you to win a prize… um, I mean, test your knowledge”, she joked to the students.
Lecture: Innovation Management (Tuesday 1 pm in M1-12)
Lecturer: Jasmien Khattab
Subject: Knowledge quiz on all the course material from the past semester.
Audience: The lecture is for all second-year business students, both Dutch and international. A total of around 1,500 students. There were only three (although highly enthusiastic) students in the Dutch lecture today, and just over twenty in the English-language lecture.
Reason to follow the lecture: You will learn about all aspects of innovation, the examples are interesting and current. You will also be given guest lectures by experts. Students are extremely enthusiastic about guest lectures on rocket and robot construction.
Once all the students (plus your EM reporter and illustrator) had logged in to Mentimeter, the first multiple choice question appeared: ‘How do you know if an innovation is disruptive?’
The answer: an innovation is disruptive ‘if it has the potential to improve traditional performance attributes’. “Traditional producers often overestimate what the market needs”, explains the lecturer. “A budget airline company is an example of a disruptive innovation. They scrapped all the luxuries offered by traditional airlines and went for the bare minimum. And as it turned out, that’s what the market needed. Most people don’t care about luxury services, as long as they can fly affordably.”
The state of affairs after the third question: EM illustrator Pauline is in first, with student Max in second, followed by students Artyom and Lars (and your EM reporter in last place, but never mind that).
Nokia snake game
The next question evoked nostalgia among people who grew up in the 2000s: it’s about the Snake game found on Nokia phones from that time. In the game, you need to control a line of pixels (the snake) to collect food. The snake grows and grows until it collides with itself and you have to start all over again. The question: Was the snake game a hedonistic or functional innovation?
The answer is hedonistic. Hedonistic innovation is about feeling, identity and emotion. The game led to smiles, happiness and brain stimulation: people played it as a pastime. “Many people aren’t aware that the game was actually developed to promote the newly developed infrared connection. The idea was that two phones could connect to play the game together. Unfortunately, that didn’t catch on”, said the lecturer.
The competition between the participants started to heat up, with students Artyom and Max overtaking illustrator Pauline. In the end, student Max won, with Pauline in second place and student Artyom in third. The winners went up to receive their prizes on the stage. Max proudly shared his prize, a bag of chocolate coins, with his fellow students. “I think it’s a great course, I really did my best for it”, he said, popping chocolate coins into his mouth.
Student Artyom was also enthusiastic about the subject. “This lecture is a good combination of theory and practice. The course has immediate relevance to the real world”, he says. However, he regrets the fact that there is a lot of self-study. “But of course you learn much more because you have to read and prepare by yourself.” Student Lars confirmed this, but also had to admit that he was sitting in the lecture hall for the first time today. He generally chose to watch the recordings at home. “Unfortunately, I failed the last exam”, confessed Lars. If he wants to succeed, he must do the last assignment properly. “That’s why I thought it might be useful to attend the lecture, I was on campus anyway to do some studying.”
All three students had nothing but praise for the lecturer Jasmien Khattab. “She gives great lectures. You can see that she’s involved and excited about innovation. And if a lecturer is excited about a course, that excitement gets passed on to their students”, said Max. Her lectures are always interactive, said Artyom. “And she’s always open to feedback from students. I really like that.”
Downside of innovation
After the explanation of the last assignment, Khattab showed a final video: a clip of the film Forrest Gump in which you can see the already long-deceased president Ronald Reagan. The video served as a visual aid for Khattab’s next topic: the downsides of innovation, such as deepfake technology.
Although people often take advantage of innovations, it is the intentions – and not the innovations – that are unethical, emphasised Khattab. “Nuclear energy was also developed out of scientific curiosity, not to use it in a bomb and exterminate people”, she stated as an example. She concluded the final lecture with a message: “When you start innovating, be aware of the potential consequences that this can have. Make sure you find ways to reverse the negative consequences.”