Posted on 10/11/2017

Disruption, Dynamic Thinking and Structured Innovation – University of Detroit Mercy is at the Forefront of Graduate Engineering & Science Education

David Pistrui, Ph.D.


Today, there is a significant shift from selling what exists to imagining what’s next.  Fifty years ago, the life expectancy of a Fortune 500 firm was around 75 years.  Currently, it is less than 15 years and declining rapidly.  Dynamic change and a disruptive consumer-oriented market economy are fueling these changes. Today, even the largest companies risk being marginalized, commoditized or disrupted in other ways.  As well-funded start-ups and risk-embracing players seek to challenge prevailing paradigms and alter long-standing models, innovation has become critical, not merely to growth but to survival.

As volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity rise, disruptive and disintermediating transformation in products, services and offerings will continue to increase Imagination and the creation of compelling experiences, radical brand evolutions and new business models will drive this revolution.  Innovation created around human centric dynamic thinking will continue to emerge as critical survival skills and growth strategies.  Generative research focused on gaining entirely new insights and inspirations that drive new offerings will become the strategic tool of choice for agile companies in a rapidly evolving marketplace.

The University of Detroit Mercy is at the forefront of developing and delivering educational programs that prepare leaders of today and tomorrow to navigate these exciting and challenging times.   For example, working together with industry partners, the Detroit Mercy College of Engineering & Science has launched a new Graduate Certificate Program in Systems Engineering during fall 2017.  This unique program addresses the need for engineers to develop a more integrated approach toward their work by blending science, design thinking and business acumen into their daily activities.  The ultimate goal of such programs is to foster a new mindset and approach that we describe as Dynamic Thinking.

Dynamic Thinking

The magnitude of disruption that impacts traditional business models has never been greater. Dynamic Thinking involves analyzing, projecting and actualizing new methods, models and measures to shape the possibilities of tomorrow today. Dynamic Thinking can be defined as people centric opportunity seeking approaches to imaging, envisioning, identifying, evaluating and seizing new opportunities to solve problems and create value through the systematic implementation of new methods and models. 

While most companies are stuck on small incremental development efforts, Dynamic Thinking produces radical innovation and the intermediate steps to get there. Dynamic Thinking is at the forefront of helping people and organizations navigate the turbulence and disruption of the current business environment.  Dynamic Thinking is paramount for the growth, success and the wellbeing of individuals, organizations and socioeconomic systems. Airbnb, Amazon and Uber are examples of disruptive new innovative business models. Dynamic Thinking is paramount to both creating and navigating the business landscape as increasing levels of disruption permeate the socioeconomic landscape.

At Detroit Mercy, we get to the core of the Dynamic Thinking principally through our faculty, who have a special blend of industry practice and scholarly rigor with relevance. Our faculty have boots on the ground real world experience in industry, which provides distinctive value to our students.  In addition, our small class sizes provide for an intimate relationship whereby we create a community of learning that establishes a network student’s draw on well after they have earned their degrees.  Building on our systems approach to engineering and science education, Detroit Mercy students are well prepared to lead innovative new approaches.  Our focus on building Systematic Innovation Capabilities provides our graduates with the skills necessary to drive innovation.

Systematic Innovation Capabilities

Currently many companies do not see value and struggle to build Systematic Innovation Capabilities.  Relevance and sustained success require Dynamic Thinking integrating new mindsets, methods, models and measures.  Dynamic Thinking drives the ability to create and sustain Structured Innovation Capabilities.  

The four key elements of Dynamic Thinking centered innovation development include:

  • Opportunity Seeking Orientation – Entrepreneurial Mindset;
  • Integrative Systems Analysis – Systems Architecture & Optimization;
  • Generative Research Techniques – Design Thinking Methods & Empirical Models; and
  • Responsive Business Models – Structured Innovation Capabilities.  

Dynamic Thinking-based Structured Innovation Capabilities demand human centered approaches that incorporate heuristic trend analysis, opportunity recognition, ideation, and prototyping in conjunction with systems analysis and integration. As a result, improvement of current offerings, as well as the creation of new products, services and business models are possible. 

Generative approaches that focus on gaining entirely new insights and inspirations that drive Dynamic Thinking are becoming the strategic tools of choice for agile companies in rapidly evolving industries.  New offerings, processes and systems require new input methodologies, data analytics and new ways to synthesize actionable meaning and collaboration to emerging opportunities, needs and problems. 

University of Detroit Mercy

The College of Engineering & Science is one of the region’s most important producers of technical talent.  Our Center for Automotive Systems Engineering Education fosters student teamwork on collaborative projects including competitive vehicle design, robotics and autonomous vehicle development.  We offer a combination of graduate degrees in product development, technical management and traditional engineering disciplines via a variety of formats to fit industry needs.  Our graduate certificate programs in Systems Engineering and Advanced Electric Vehicles were designed with leading global companies. When you study at Detroit Mercy, your experience is about so much more than what you've learned in the classroom – it’s about taking that knowledge and network, and using it to make a difference at work and in your community. 

About the Author

David Pistrui, Ph.D. | University of Detroit Mercy

David Pistrui, Ph.D., is director of Graduate Recruiting and clinical professor of Engineering for the College of Engineering & Science at University of Detroit Mercy.


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