Outside the box: Memphis Innovation Bootcamp kickstarts creative thinking

Innovative and creative thinkers are getting set for the fourth Memphis Innovation Bootcamp (MIB) on October 15-17 at the FedEx Institute of Technology on the University of Memphis campus.
Michael Graber of Southern Growth Studio, Jay Morgan of Merck, Dr. Brian Janz from the U. of M., and Zach Perry at FedEx organized the first bootcamp last year.
“We decided that we wanted to change the culture of Memphis and the best way to do that was to teach the tool of innovation. That was the genesis of the bootcamp,” says Michael Graber, Managing Partner at Southern Growth Studio. “What we’re looking for is convergency of thought, with everyone from anthropologists to designers to doctors to lawyers to analytical thinkers to creative types, and then we walk through design thinking.”
Design thinking is a formal methodology used to handle real-world projects that involves
empathy, creativity, and rationality. A design thinking program was created at Stanford University’s Design School, and the MIB is based on the school’s Executive Innovation Bootcamp.
“Essentially we were unsatisfied with our innovation output, so we were looking for Best in Class Innovation approaches,” says Jay Morgan, Senior VP of Innovation at Merck. “As we studied companies that innovated the best, we identified design thinking as a capability that was common in those who innovated in the most productive way.”
After attending the bootcamp at Stanford, Morgan felt a call to action because he felt the approach could change the world.
“I figured why should it be limited to those who could afford to pay $10,000 for the bootcamp, so myself and some like-minded people decided that this should be available at a much lower cost here in Memphis to impact the Memphis community commercially, academically, and for non-profits,” explains Morgan.
Graber expects MIB attendees in October to include some entrepreneurs, as well as managers, directors and VP-level execs that are looking to innovate their business models and change the culture of their companies by using formal innovation methods.
Plans are to hold three to four of the intensive, hands-on bootcamps each year going forward. 
By Michael Waddell
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