I’m always surprised at the number of organizations I speak with that tell me they don’t have any training programs for their employees. Think of the improved innovation results they could get if they not only engaged their employees in the innovation process but also helped them to learn about that process and develop their skills in generating, developing, and analyzing ideas. After all, due to the rapid pace of change, the skills critical to your success are innovation skills: creativity, critical thinking, communication, strategic thinking, and problem solving.
Most of us didn’t major in “innovation” in college or even have a course or a single 2 hour-long workshop on the topic. Most have never learned the basics of ideation. This is a huge problem – and huge opportunity if you can provide this experience for them. Think of the difference a higher quality and quantity of ideas could make.
With high-impact innovation training, the goal is not only learning and skill development for the individual, but also to create real innovations that have value for ourselves, our organization, our customers, and our community as a result of engaging in the innovation learning and development activities.
Less than a half-day of effective training can make a big difference in helping people to generate more and better ideas for a crowdsourcing project. Sometimes this is a shift of a mindset from submitting one idea to submitting many ideas. Or it could be providing shared language at an organization to help people understand decisions. Organizations engage their people in submitting ideas without any training on how to generate ideas. Next time try a 15 minute long training on idea generation tools and techniques and see how this affects the quantity and quality of ideas you receive.
If you don’t like “training” because it makes you think of boring lecture halls and interminable slide decks… you’re not thinking of training. The training should be entirely focused on your audience of innovators, so when you think of your training, consider starting with some of these elements for yourself or your team:
- Help people to start and launch a real innovation project. Work on a real challenge that relates to your unique role, or a challenge that is from your team, or from the organization as a whole. Learn through doing.
- Make it easy to start. Engage you team in 10 minutes per day of an innovation learning practice habit: sharing ideas, building on the ideas of others, limiting ideas with constraints, broadening ideas with a reframe.
- Use an innovation book or online workshop to guide you step-by-step. But just reading the book or watching the online workshop will not be effective on its own. You need to discuss these ideas as a team and apply the techniques from the book or workshop.
- Gain experience with the different stages and approaches to innovation. This includes not just generating 10 ideas a day but also diagnosing problems and analyzing and launching ideas. Try doing it collaboratively with others.
- Reflect on what you are doing and what you are learning from what you are doing…and what you want to do with what you learn.
Get started yourself today and then engage others to scale it. What is the innovation you want to work on to learn from? Start with understanding your challenge and who it affects. Is there a challenge you already have, or a problem you want to solve? How would you like to manage your ideas for your project? There are different models with various stages and steps you can adopt and use. Research some of them and just get started yourself or helping others to learn and develop their innovation skill so they can contribute to your organization and important challenges in more valuable and productive ways.
This post is a guest post by Darin Eich. Darin Eich, Ph.D. is the author of Innovation Step-by-Step: How to Create & Develop Ideas for your Challenge & Root Down & Branch Out: Best Practices for Leadership Development Programs. He is a global innovation training workshop designer and keynote speaker as the founder of Innovation Learning. Darin designs programs used by over 1 million people that have been featured in USA TODAY & US NEWS and offered by the University of Wisconsin and Dartmouth College. He got started in innovation consulting as the president of BrainReactions where he led ideation projects for clients like P&G & the UN.