I have been designing and running innovation training for the past 10 years.

During that time I have gained some insights as to what works and what does not.

Here are 8 suggestions for you to make the most out of your innovation training budget.

Run a pilot first

There is very important if you wish to roll-out the program to a larger audience.

Have a small group and test the content of the program and try and customise the content as much as you can.

Adapt what works then change what does not. These people can then become your advocates for the program.

Ask for volunteers

With the pilot program it is vital that the people who are there want to do the course.

There is nothing worse than trying to talk to people about something they have little interest in.

Use real problems

The only way i have found to engage people’s heads and heart’s is to appeal to their self-interest.

Hence working on real problems is one clear way of doing this.

I even ask for issues that the group have been struggling with for some time.

This means that if you can help the group crack the problem then the learning becomes much more profound.

Use real examples and case studies.

The more related and up to date the examples are the better.

When you have the group’s trust then you can stretch the group with some more esoteric examples.

Start with brainstorming

This is one mistake I have made over the years.

There is plenty of research around that suggests that brainstorming is not very effective.

This is why I have written an ebook on tips to make brainstorming more productive and engaging.

But it is the most common creative thinking tool for groups and teams.

Much better to make brainstorming more effective than to ignore it all altogether.

Spread the training over say 6 weeks

This can be difficult but training always works better when it can be applied to a real-life situation.

In the last program i ran for example, we started with a full day then followed this up with 3 sessions of 3 spread over a 6 week period.

In this way participants could learn say a new tool (e.g. Ideas Blitz or Speed Thinking) and then practice it before the session session.

Then we could discuss what worked and what did not at the next session.

This is much better than say a 2 day course for example.

Try for an offsite location

Another tricky one because it costs extra.

But training works best when the participants are free from emails, text and phone messages.

End the program with a summary and lessons’ learned.

This is an obvious one but sometimes overlooked.

In the last course I ran the participants themselves presented to each other what were the main lessons and key take-aways.

Innovation training in today’s world is a must do.

It’s illogical for a leader to want to build a more innovative culture and not to invest in the development of some new skills in team members.

The good news is that innovation can be trained, developed and applied with great results.

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