Essential Business MOOCs For July

July MOOCs
Here is another excellent article by John A. Byrne for LinkedIn Pulse. To check out others and sign up for email alerts, please click here.

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“What I’m doing is I am looking for more people to talk to about innovation…because I found my wife and my kids don’t want to hear about it anymore.”

Well, one family’s loss is the world’s gain.

On July 1st, David Owens (above) will launch his much-anticipated MOOC, “Leading Strategic Innovation in Organizations.” Owens, a professor of Practice Management and Innovation at Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Management, doesn’t write off summer to ice cream, waterskiing, and fireworks. Instead, he views it as a time to confront one of the great paradoxes of business: Why do leaders want to innovate, but not to change?

The Massive Open Online Course, which dovetails with Owens’ book, Creative People Must Be Stopped! Six Ways We Stop Innovation (Without Even Trying), holds the most promise among free MOOC courses starting in July. Here, the former CEO of Griffin Technology reveals why the best ideas are blocked long before a beta. In Owens’ research, he has identified that the main culprit begins with a P (and it’s not process, payables, or popularity).

That’s right, it’s people. And they often perceive innovation as a threat on many levels, according to Owens. Personally, some worry that change will disrupt seemingly effective rhythms. Others view it in terms of winners-and-losers, where the fallout will shatter their egos, if not take away their jobs. Of course, some people simply cannot grasp the forces re-shaping the marketplace outside their walls. And so they act slowly, hoping to wait out any transformation, believing it will ultimately collapse and return to the established order.

How do you overcome resistance when ideas are generated, debated, and executed? That’s the goal of Owens’ course. By understanding where, how, and why ideas fail, innovators can persuasively address those unspoken fears that cause people to tune out or resist. In doing so, they can model a culture that sparks creativity and embraces the best ideas, building buy-in and momentum when it’s needed most.

In fact, two themes stand out among the best of July’s MOOCs. First, educators are focusing on changing perceptions. For example, Scott Plous’ “Social Psychology” course, which drew more than 100,000 students (and rave reviews) in 2013, is designed to make students aware of how they process people and phenomenon…and how such perceptions are subject to bias and context. Similarly, Penn State returns with its popular “Creativity, Innovation, and Change” MOOC, which registered over 130,000 participants last year. Using advanced problem-solving and design models, this course also looks to tap into students’ atrophied creative muscles so they too can be a force for change.

The second theme? Let’s just say MOOCs are starting to become a platform for professors to sell more books. Call MOOCs a virtual book tour these days. You’d almost expect Coursera, EdX and Canvas to open each weekly video with a “sponsored by XYZ Publishing” tagline (Wait, don’t give them any ideas).

Otherwise, this month’s fare includes courses on risk management, foreign banking, the history of American capitalism, brand management, and delivering speeches. The LinkedIn crowd might especially find two courses very valuable: Cornell University’s Projecting Your Brand Through New Media and The Open University’s Talk the Talk: How To Give A Special Presentation.

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To learn more about these courses and others as well as how to enroll, please click here.

John A. Byrne is a former Editor of Fast Company and BusinessWeek and currently Co-Founder and CEO if C-Change Media Inc. and its Poets & Quants website.

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