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DSGN 495-40: CPG Product and Business Innovation Studio

Quarter Offered

Spring : Course will meet for two 3-hour sessions each week, in-person only. For Spring 2023 those sessions are Wednesdays 1:00 - 4:00pm and Fridays 9:00am - Noon in Ford 1.230 (Ford Design Studio 1) ; Craig Sampson and Helen von den Steinen


Prerequisites and Enrollment

Open to all graduate students, with a focus on students in the Kellogg MMM, Segal EDI, and Medill IMC programs. Enrollment is limited and by instructor permission. Interested students should apply via this link. Submissions should include Statements of Interest outlining reasons for interest in the course, skills brought to the course, and personal learning goals. A copy of the student's resume and a link to their portfolio (if available) is also requested, to best understand each student. 

For 2023, interested students may apply for enrollment starting on Thursday February 2, and no later than end of day on Sunday, February 12. Students will be notified of their enrollment status by noon on Thursday, February 16, after which permission numbers will be issued to accepted students. (For MMM students who apply early by Sunday February 5, early responses will be provided by Thursday February 9.)

A key element of the learning experience is consumer research: in-home ethnographic interviews with consumers, and central site testing in which consumers come to campus to give feedback.  Participation in this research is required, so to enroll in this course all students must be available the morning of Saturday April 9, and the evenings of Tuesday April 26 and Tuesday May 24.

Course Description

This experiential course lives at the intersection of transformative product innovation, design thinking, and business model innovation. The learning experience will be both rich and realistic.
Diverse, multidisciplinary student teams will be established by the instructors for the duration of the quarter, and will work under NDA on real-world upstream product innovation projects sponsored by Procter & Gamble, experiencing and helping to advance the way in which big innovation works in highly scaled businesses like P&G. Each team will develop both the consumer and business value proposition of their project through hands-on exercises, prototyping, testing and regular coaching by sponsor mentors. 
Unique characteristics of this class include a range of state of the art consumer research methods (including in-home ethnographic interviews), physical and virtual product prototyping, business model development, and pitch development and testing. Skills and interests including physical & social science, engineering, business, communication, design and prototyping are all highly valued, and will be brought together in pursuit of a common innovation goal.
The work will be challenging, comprehensive and rewarding.  Students will develop individual and team collaboration skills that will translate to the professional world. If you want to experience how big product and brand innovation works in the world of Consumer Packaged Goods (and, by analogy, in many other sectors), as well as learn powerful tools and frameworks that guide innovation across a range of business scales, then this is the course for you.
Due to this course spanning three schools, which all have very different schedules, we schedule two three-house sessions each week to ensure that students teams are able to have common time to work together.  Our class time is split evenly between typical course activities (lectures, exercises, discussions) and dedicated team collaboration time (with support and coaching from the instructor team).  Team members will also need to find addition time during the week to collaborate. This is a one-unit course.

Learn more about the instructors, Craig Sampson and Helen von den Steinen.

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