Is Your Innovation Training Program All It Could Be?

Businesses can no longer ignore innovation and hope to remain competitive. 

Person snapping their fingers under the word innovation.
If only innovation were as easy as snapping our fingers!

It isn’t just tech companies and startups that are emphasizing innovation, but businesses in all industries and of all sizes. As a result of increased focus on innovation, innovation training programs are springing up – both inside companies and as entities that are marketed to businesses. 

Not all innovation training programs are equally good, however, so it’s essential that every business take an honest look at its innovation training program to ensure that it continues to serve its needs. It’s not always easy to do, but if you want an innovative workforce with the ability to take ideas from conception through implementation, you have to ensure they receive the training they need. Here’s how to determine if your innovation training program is performing as it should.

Evaluate Innovation Training Based on These Qualities

Since innovation is becoming a business discipline, training must encompass much more than just the brainstorming phase of innovation. After all, a lack of ideas is rarely the problem. It’s lack of follow-through of evaluating, prioritizing, and developing promising ideas that hinders innovation initiatives. Therefore, it’s essential that innovation training have sufficient breadth and depth to encompass the entire process.

Also, evaluate who will lead the training. Instructors who have actual innovation experience and who have led innovation projects are ideal. While online or self-paced training programs can fill niche training needs, innovation training should be in-person and hands-on. Academic training without hands-on exercises won’t make as lasting an impact. Further, the exercises should require a range of tools and techniques and emphasize collaboration.

Key Elements of Innovation Training

Classroom setting with an instructor standing at the front.
Innovation training must be hands-on as well as academic.

A strong innovation training program designed to help build a culture of innovation should have several key elements. Specifically, it should have:

  • Emphasis and training on how innovation is a process rather than a “Eureka!” moment.
  • Experienced instructors, preferably with first-hand experience in leading innovation projects.
  • Active, hands-on training exercises in addition to academic learning.
  • Experts with a deep body of knowledge on innovation.

Common Pitfalls of Innovation Training

Avoid common pitfalls of innovation training so you don’t waste time and money. Some of the more common hazards to avoid include:

  • Spending too much time on brainstorming, since lack of ideas usually isn’t what keeps organizations from being innovative.
  • Lack of follow-through by actually putting the training to use.
  • Lack of hands-on exercises where people actually form teams, generate ideas, learn to pitch them, and also gather feedback and refine ideas. Learning by doing is powerful.
  • Copying another organization’s innovation training without customizing it to your organization’s actual needs.
  • Not having an innovation program with metrics that help you measure success and continually improve at innovating.

Putting Training to Use Is the Most Important Element of Innovation Training

Though it’s been mentioned above, it bears repeating that putting innovation training to use is the most important element of an innovation training program. Not only do you want to generate ROI for your training investment, but you also want the outcome to include actual innovations that your company develops and puts into use. Setting up innovation training without having a sound innovation program in place won’t get results.

IdeaScale powers innovation programs in businesses of all sizes, across all industries. If you’re ready for innovation to be more than a buzzword, IdeaScale invites you to get the Innovation Starter Kit.

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