An Open Door to Innovation

Cory Sorice talks about his work at Masonite and the approach he’ll bring as an adjunct lecturer to MEM's Organizing for Innovation course.

To Cory Sorice, a door is more than a barrier. It’s a platform for innovation. 

Cory SoriceSorice is senior vice president and chief innovation officer at Masonite International, globally recognized for its manufacturing and distribution of interior and exterior doors. He recently joined Northwestern's Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program as an adjunct lecturer and will be teaching a course called Organizing for Innovation. The goal is to help the next generation of business professionals see the common in uncommon ways. 

“The course is structured around a few concepts related to how to identify problems, create solutions, collaborate with stakeholders, and then select the right programs to move ahead,” Sorice said. “I love the combination of the theory of how to approach innovation as well as the implementation.”

Sorice brings more than 30 years of professional experience to MEM, the last three in his current role at Masonite. During that time, the company introduced new technology for a residential door that integrates power and internet connectivity into its products to enhance security and ease of use. The move was heralded as the company’s most significant advance in research and development in the company's nearly 100-year history.

“Masonite’s corporate mission is to create doors that do more, an ethos centered around offering meaningful benefits for our customers, with a strong emphasis on innovation,” said Sorice, who received his MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. “We are focused on creating breakthrough innovation and doing so in a way that fosters personal development and enrichment. I am thrilled to be at a company that combines two areas I’m personally passionate about.” 

Sorice expects that passion to spill over into his MEM class. The job of helping mold future innovators is one he takes seriously because he’s seen firsthand how important they are to a company’s growth. Many companies miss the importance of having a culture of innovation, he said, often because of the time it takes to grow. 

“Innovation is a fuzzy concept on the front end yet requires disciplined execution as ideas move to commercialization,” he said. “A very important first step is appreciating the difference between invention and innovation and then, as technology leaders at a company, being able to outline how investing in an innovation approach can lead to long-term sustainable and profitable success.” 

One of the key points Sorice said he expects to emphasize in the class is that innovation isn’t about creating one quality idea but rather about generating voluminous ideas, researching them, and making wise decisions on which ones to move forward. Success in that selection process often separates great innovators from good ones and winning companies from those that lag behind.

“All of the work that is stopped can be seen as a waste rather than learning,” he said. “Shifting to a learning culture and one that understands that it starts with a lot of ideas and then how to select the best ones takes time for an organization to appreciate.”

Sorice said he expects students to benefit from the real-world examples and tested frameworks for innovation he intends to bring to the class. 

“lf I look back at the most impactful products I’ve seen launched, they have come from combining a variety of inputs – new technology, user pain points, and competitive pressure,” he said. “What’s great about that is if you’re looking for problems to be solved, there are a lot of opportunities to leverage your own skills to be innovative.”

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