What should you think about when your team is ready for innovation training?
Innovation isn’t reserved for special teams or Silicon Valley start-ups anymore. It’s a way of thinking and working that just about every company is feeling pressure to adopt in order to evolve and stay competitive.
According to McKinsey & Company’s article The eight essentials of innovation: “The best companies find ways to embed innovation into the fibers of their culture, from the core to the periphery.” One way to embed innovation in your culture is to train your team in innovation techniques.
“The best companies find ways to embed innovation into the fibers of their culture, from the core to the periphery.” — McKinsey & Company
What is Innovation Training?
There are many different ways to approach innovation, but at a very basic level, innovation training is a way to teach creative ways of working that push beyond the status quo or business-as-usual habits. Often, this means teaching teams to take a more user-centered approach, which is a mode of problem-solving that starts with the needs of your end-user or customer, rather than just business goals or metrics, in order to uncover insights, reveal new ideas, and design potential solutions.
Innovation training teaches teams to take a more user-centered approach, which means starting with the needs of your end-user or customer, rather than just business goals or metrics.
Why is Innovation Training Important?
Innovation training is important for companies right now because industries are changing so quickly with technological and digital advances. Disruption can happen overnight, which means new ways of working are imperative. Think about this: if the taxi industry had been thinking more creatively about what their customers wanted and where they were headed, they might not have been surprised when start-ups like Uber and Lyft came into their space and changed things virtually overnight.
Innovation training is important for companies right now because industries are changing so quickly with technological and digital advances.
When a company has an innovative culture, it’ll grow easily, despite the fact that the creative process isn’t always simple. Tried-and-tested methods may be reliable, but trying out new things is a worthwhile experiment. — Forbes
If you are thinking about engaging with outside consultants to train your team in innovation, here are four questions we recommend asking so you don’t fall into common pitfalls.
1. What do we want to get out of innovation training?
First, know your purpose. Define your mission. What do you need or want to accomplish out of innovation training? Your goals might be large or small, short term or long term. You might want to go deep, or you might want to dip your toe in. All of these things are possible. Just get clear on what you’re aiming for out of your innovation training.
For example, do you want to shake up your team’s way of working and give them a few new innovative tools they can use in their processes moving forward? If that’s the case, a one or two-day innovation workshop with a design thinking facilitator might be what you need. Just know that the outcomes of a quick workshop will be familiarity with the techniques, but not deep knowledge.
Depending on your specific goals for innovation training, you may need to commit days or months to learning new ways of working.
Or, conversely, do you want to truly transform the way your whole team works in a radical way? If this is what you’re looking for, you probably need more in-depth, long-term training that includes on-going expert coaching so that an innovative mindset has time to spread through the culture of your organization.
2. What innovation methodologies will we learn?
At Voltage Control, we don’t teach just one method but have a toolkit of many approaches we leverage to engage companies and teams depending on their needs. Some techniques we like to use include Agile, Lean, Design Thinking, Design Sprints, prototyping, and Liberating Structures.
Depending on your team’s focus or expertise — are you strategists, product designers, project managers, engineers or developers? — different innovation approaches may be more relevant than others. Usually, your innovation training consultant will be able to tailor a program that meets your company’s specific needs and the skills of your group.
3. Who’s going to be involved in our innovation training?
Innovation training is one smart way to inspire your team and empower them to work differently. So, when engaging with innovation training you’ll have to decide who in your company or team is going to take part.
“Talented, innovative people want to work for innovative companies. You aren’t going to attract someone who is going to create the next big thing unless your company has a history of creating.” — from “4 Reasons Why You Need To Focus On Innovation”
Maybe you have the resources to let everyone engage with innovation training — that’s an excellent way to quickly and widely spread creative thinking throughout a company. But, if you are like most companies and can only invest in innovation training for a small group, think carefully about who you include.
When engaging with innovation training you’ll have to decide who in your company or team is going to take part.
Look for open-minded and enthusiastic people who are ready to take that next step in their career or who might be on the path to leadership. At the same time, you might want to consider including people who have been in your organization a long time or who have ingrained ways of working, in order to shake up their working methods and attitudes.
4. What are we going to do after innovation training?
Many people get excited about innovation training but have a hard time keeping up with or implementing the learnings moving forward. If you want to see real change in your organization or team, you have to prepare for how you are going to keep going once the training is over.
“Internal collaboration and experimentation can take years to establish, particularly in large, mature companies with strong cultures and ways of working that, in other respects, may have served them well.” — McKinsey & Company
Plan ways to keep the spirit of your new learnings alive. Make concrete plans for after the innovation training: What are your immediate next steps? Do you need to plan regular sessions for your innovation team to gather and share learnings? Could you spend an hour a month on innovation coaching?
It’s not easy to stay focused on new ways of working when you have your “day job”, but commit to one or two ways to keep the drumbeat of innovation going after your innovation training.
Looking for Innovation Training? We do that!
Voltage Control offers a range of options for innovation training and we also build custom workshops and solutions based on your exact needs. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to talk about innovation training, design sprints, or design thinking facilitation.