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Dean Dipak C. Jain and Professor Thomas Kuczmarski
Dean Dipak C. Jain and Professor Thomas Kuczmarski talk innovation. The pair teams up to teach executives.  Photo © Nathan Mandell

New executive education offering turns ideas into action — and profits

Structured approach to innovation helps create, launch and build successful products and services

By Ed Finkel

Whether seeking to create and market a new product or service or build cross-functional teams that integrate research, development, design, marketing and manufacturing, a Kellogg School executive education offering provides structured insights to synthesize the tools necessary to make innovation central to any organization.

Managing New Products and Services for Strategic Competitive Advantage, co-taught by Kellogg School Dean Dipak C. Jain and Adjunct Associate Professor Thomas Kuczmarski, was adapted from the established MBA course, Introduction to New Products and Services. But the executive offering emphasizes leadership strategies involved in creating an innovative mindset and incorporates an international perspective to illustrate key points — especially relevant given that nearly half the class consists of executives working outside the United States.

"When you are thinking of launching a new product or service, what is the process you need to follow from concept to launch?" Jain says. "Our students learn how to put together a marketing plan, assess the marketing opportunity, assess the potential. We expose them to all the steps that are involved, with an emphasis on how innovation converts a concept into a successful actual offering."

To encourage fruitful discussion, the standard executive education privacy rules are in place.  "The doors are closed," says Kuczmarski. "There's a lot of sharing that goes on. The benefits are that people see they're not alone, and that managing new products and services is a big, big challenge."

Jain says he brings the rigor of academic research to the class while Kuczmarski, senior partner and president of the consultancy Kuczmarski and Associates, brings the practitioner's framework for a balanced approach to the subject.

"The emphasis is on an innovative mindset, sharing best practices and bringing multiple perspectives," says Jain, a scholar of marketing and innovation. "What students see is one topic but viewed by two people, from an academic and non-academic point of view. In business problems, there is no one right answer, so we explore multiple dimensions of these challenging issues."

Kuczmarski says his 18-year professional relationship and personal friendship with Jain creates chemistry. "You know somebody that long, you know what they're going to say before they say it," he says. "Dipak brings the academic fortitude, and I bring the practical business experience from helping companies develop new products and services."

The four-day course is organized in three sections. Students initially discuss how to create a new product or service and link it to a core business strategy, while also establishing the necessary metrics. Next, they explore tools and techniques for the development process. "You don't start with idea generation," Kuczmarski says. "You start with understanding consumer problems and needs, so that your ideas end up being solutions." Finally, the class focuses on how to create a culture of innovation through building cross-functional teams and rewarding performance.

Class discussion concerns the roles that intellectual property and supply chain management play in innovation and competitive advantage, Kuczmarski says. "You can create a great new product, but if you can't get it into distribution, it's not going to sell," he says.

The course benefits from a range of faculty expertise. Sunil Chopra, senior associate dean for curriculum and teaching, addresses supply chains, while James Conley, clinical professor of technology industry management, brings product design and intellectual property insights. They are joined by Lakshman Krisnamurthi, the A. Montgomery Ward Professor of Marketing, an expert in marketing strategy.

Says Dean Jain, "With this faculty team working together we are providing a portfolio of ideas structured in a way that gives students tools to turn insights into profitable products and services."

Managing New Products and Services for Strategic Competitive Advantage will be offered June 24 – 27 and Oct. 14 – 17. To learn more, call 847.467.7000 or contact


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