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Ryan J. A. Murphy, BSc (Hons), Psychology & Computer Science (Software Engineering) (Memorial University); MDes, Strategic Foresight & Innovation (OCAD University); PhD candidate, Management (Information Systems) (Memorial University)

Assistant Professor, Business

Email: ryanjamurphy@grenfell.mun.ca

Office: AS2021

Web: https://fulcra.design

Research interests and expertise

Ryan's mission is to "help changemakers change their worlds." For over a decade, he has been working in Canadian K-12 and post-secondary education to teach and enhance programming for leadership, innovation, and changemaking skills. In his emerging research practice, Ryan studies changemakers and their tools through four research streams: (1) systemic strategy, (2) design for serendipity and innovation, (3) changemaker, leadership, and innovation skills, and (4) design for experience and learning.

Systemic strategy

Ryan is an expert in finding leverage for strategic innovations in complex systems. He developed a systemic design methodology, called systemic leverage analysis, to identify leverage points, bottlenecks, and other features of a modelled system. With these features, designers can develop better strategies for greater impact. He has also challenged modern theories of leverage in systemic change, arguing that we can rethink leverage to gain a greater advantage over wicked problems. He has helped governments, philanthropies, and non-profits use these ideas to develop high-impact strategies for systemic change.

Design for serendipity and innovation

In this research stream, Ryan studies how we shape our tools, and they shape us. What we use to observe the world, capture our observations, and think through them shapes how we think and what we think about. In other words, the apps and platforms we use as individuals and as organizations both constrain and elevate our thinking, often in unseen ways. This is particularly important in a world where success relies on knowledge innovation — that is, our ability to learn things and then generate new, useful knowledge from what we've learned. Ryan studies, for instance, the design of our thinking environments, and how our notetaking practices helps or hinders the ideas we have and the actions we're able to take on those notes. In his ongoing PhD work, Ryan is exploring how the design of data models enables (or prevents) serendipity.

Changemaker, leadership, and innovation skills

How do we practice innovation? How does knowledge innovation happen? How does this intersect with modern theories of leadership? In this research stream, Ryan examines how leadership and innovation skills are practiced, learned, and used by changemakers to change their worlds. In his award-winning Master's thesis, Innovation Education, Ryan synthesized a model of innovation skills and competencies, helping educators develop curricula for enhancing students' innovation abilities.

Design for experience and learning

How are the tacit skills of leadership, innovation, and changemaking best learned? Often, experience is the only way to test ourselves. Yet modern educational models are often online and remote, distancing students from the traditional experiences that have been essential to student leadership development. In service of this challenge, Ryan has worked on hybrid/flexible models for enabling and accrediting experiential learning, and programmes for learning leadership in-place.


With a student-centered philosophy, Ryan designs pedagogical innovations that respond to and leverage modern technologies, creating engaging lectures and pragmatic, experiential evaluations. At Grenfell, you might find him teaching:

  • Business 1010: Introduction to Business

  • Business 3410: Operations Management

  • Business 3750: Management Information Systems

  • Management 6006: Managing Information and Knowledge

  • Management 6007: Managing Organizational Processes

Work with me! Supervision and collaboration

Are you interested in any of the above topics or issues? Ryan welcomes opportunities to collaborate with other researchers — faculty and students! — on common interests. He would be happy to help students in particular apply for grants and funding to support their interest in research. Reach out over email to get in touch: ryanjamurphy@grenfell.mun.ca.

Business Administration

Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland
20 University Drive, Corner Brook, NL
A2H 5G4, Canada

Office: AS 2013
Phone: (709) 639-2568
Email: business@grenfell.mun.ca

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