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What You Will Learn from Disrupt Together: How Teams Consistently Innovate

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Stephen Spinelli explains the concept of his book, which is that interdisciplinary teams trained as design thinkers to look for problems and iteratively map solutions innovate more efficiently, effectively, and consistently than any individual or organizational construct.
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Stephen Spinelli, Jr., Ph.D., current President of Philadelphia University, led the University’s strategic transformation. The University’s capital campaign included a $20 million single gift to endow the Maurice Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce. Dr. Spinelli previously held several leadership positions at Babson College and serves on a number of boards and in leadership roles for community, business, and professional associations. Dr. Spinelli received his Ph.D. in Economics from The Management School, Imperial College (London), his M.B.A. from Babson College, and his B.A. in Economics from McDaniel College. He began his professional life as a co-founder of Jiffy Lube.


With insights from founding Jiffy Lube and through my 14 years of teaching experience at Babson College, I co-authored nine editions of the entrepreneurial guidebook New Venture Creation, which focuses on shaping opportunity, market entry, managing risk, enterprise growth, and harvest. In the past six years as President of Philadelphia University, I have been exposed to a broader set of disciplines, notably the design fields, which has dramatically shaped my thinking about the front end of the entrepreneurial process: opportunity recognition and opportunity development. Entrepreneurship and innovation have historically been taught through the lens of business education. From my experiences with this broader set of disciplines, notably design, engineering, and the social sciences such as ethnography, I have discovered that interdisciplinary collaboration, rooted in design thinking, yields superior opportunity recognition and opportunity development, thereby making for better ideas in the front end of the entrepreneurial funnel. At Philadelphia University, we were so convinced that this interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary perspective is the key to generating superior innovation that we reorganized the University from six traditional schools to three integrated colleges, with one of the colleges focused exclusively on formalizing a pedagogy that teaches disruptive innovation. The Maurice Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce (DEC) is named for the serial entrepreneur, tireless innovator, and PhilaU alumni Maurice Kanbar, who, among many accomplishments, both founded Skyy Vodka and invented the multiplex movie theater. In creating DEC, we assembled a broad international network of thought leaders in innovation, design thinking, disruption, and education. Part of this team assembled again here to create this book as a guide to disruptive innovation and teamwork. A companion guide to New Venture Creation, Disrupt Together refines the art and science of being innovative.

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