What does it mean to be Deliberately Innovative? On April 11, Georgia Tech’s CNE Program Office partnered with CDI to host an information session and workshop focused on the concept and process of Deliberate Innovation.


What does it mean to be Deliberately Innovative? On April 11, Georgia Tech’s Commission on Creating the Next in Education (CNE) Program Office partnered with the Center for Deliberate Innovation (CDI) to host an information session and workshop focused on the concept and process of Deliberate Innovation.

“There is already impressive educational innovation at Georgia Tech,” said Rich DeMillo, executive director of C21U and the CNE Program Office. “The problem is that most innovations never find their way into everyday use. These successes are in some sense accidental. Why don’t we begin to think about innovation as more deliberate and reproducible?”

This phase of CNE implementation is strategic and oriented towards understanding project needs in order to best equip CNE project leaders and teams for success. Deliberate Innovation is a critical framework outlined in the CNE report and will provide the groundwork for all projects as they move into production. This Deliberately Innovating with CNE: Information Session and Workshop was designed to ensure that CNE contributors from across the Institute are equipped with a framework for success.

“If you want your innovation to be successful, what do you actually need?” asked Merrick Furst, director of the Center for Deliberate Innovation, during his keynote at the workshop. “Ultimately, the thing that creates the possibility for something to go on beyond you is that other people care. The difficulty that we mostly have is that we build things to the specifications that we think they should have but when we put them in the world, no one actually cares. What do you actually need to see happen as a result of your work?”

So, what is Deliberate Innovation? “Deliberate Innovation is a philosophically, theoretically grounded set of thoughts with a small number of tools that make it possible for one to actually improve a set of skills and be less wrong in the process of innovation,” explained Furst.

The workshop was hosted by CDI and provided 50 educational innovators, from across Georgia Tech’s campus, with thought leadership and guidance on the Deliberate Innovation approach. Following the keynote, the attendees were split into five breakout groups to workshop their educational innovation ideas or projects. The breakouts were facilitated by Nammy Vedire, CDI’s associate director, and CDI Faculty Fellows Joe LeDoux, Lew Lefton, Wendy Newstetter, Mary Lynn Realff, Michael Schatz, Chrissy Spencer, and Joyce Weinsheimer, who are also CNE contributors. The Provost’s Fellows for Faculty Development Mo Burke, Maribeth Coleman, and Jennifer Leavey also helped to facilitate, as they are in a leadership development program at CDI.

The facilitators guided participants through a series of questions crafted to clarify their thinking about their innovation ideas or projects and identify which of the three types of innovation might apply to their concept:

  • Informative ideas improve upon a way in which something is already being done.
  • Transformative ideas break some fundamental assumption, like a project that reaches a brand-new audience.
  • Formative ideas uncover something that we might not even be able to conceive of at this moment in time.

The workshop was designed to educate CNE project leaders on this Deliberate Innovation framework so that they might understand and identify where their idea fits into the spectrum of categorization. Not only will this process help the project teams better analyze challenges and needs related to their ideas, but it will also enable the CNE Program Office to effectively support the success of a broad spectrum of concepts and products.

“The output of this is not a piece of paper that we put on a shelf somewhere,” said DeMillo. “It’s the beginning of a conversation. This event was a success because of the active participation of the attendees and we are grateful for their continued engagement with the Commission.”

If you are part of a Commission on Creating the Next in Education (CNE) project and were unable to attend this Deliberate Innovation Workshop or would like to find out how your project can become a part of the CNE, please stay tuned for communications about a second information session and workshop opportunity. You can also contact the CNE Program Office for details via ed-innovation@gatech.edu.


Brittany Aiello, CNE and C21U Communications


Breakout groups facilitated by CDI Fellows met throughout the workshop to discuss their CNE projects and ideas.