Most innovation training does not work

Innovation is often cited as one of the top 3 priorities for leaders and managers worldwide.

As a result many leaders offer innovation training to their employees and team members.

But too often, even a great innovation session is quickly forgotten as managers either forget the lessons, ignore them or resort to their previous habits.

As an innovation trainer myself I have given countless sessions over the years and here are my suggestions to make the training really stick and become embedded in the organisation.

8 ways to make your innovation training program really stick

1. Make the sessions short

I believe the era of 1 or 2 day training sessions are over.

People are just too busy, time-poor and frankly lack the attention to sustain their focus over a day.

Better to work with this and make each innovation session short and sharp — no more than 1.5 hours.

2. Focus on 1 theme or skill or tool per session

I have found it is better to just focus on one new skill, tool or process per session.

For example it could be on brainstorming or how to evaluate ideas.

The emphasis should be on training the skill, having participants practice it in the session and then set some small goal before the next session e.g. I will run an Ideas Blitz before the next innovation session rather than automatically calling a brainstorming session.

3. Have regular sessions

The goal with innovation training is to provide participants with a new skill or tool or experience.

Then like any new skill they need to practice it.

This new skill often needs reinforcing as people’s confidence grows.

Hence regular sessions which encourages people to share their experiences with the new skill or tool before learning a new one is essential.

4. Design & run a pilot program with some volunteers

Every innovation training program is different and should be customised for the particular organisation given their culture, heritage, size etc.

A great way to ensure the success of the program is that it should be treated as an innovation launch in itself.

Run a pilot program with some people who are interested in innovation and try to see what works and what does not.

5. Ensure the examples or case studies are relevant, timely and practical

There is no right or wrong way to innovate.

But there are lessons that can be learned by studying what others are doing.

One of my favourite questions when studying other innovations is what can we learn, adapt or borrow?

6. Measure the results of the training

It is also important to measure the impact of the training.

Did it result in a change of behaviour? for example.

Or the attainment of a new skill or tool or new level of confidence?

Obtaining answers to these questions will encourage others to participate in further training and will help fine-tune the program.

7. Make the experience itself inspiring

Innovation training should be innovative.

You can change the location or accelerate the pace or play some inspiring music or use left-field examples.

Whatever the case — never make the training boring!

8. Follow up the initial training

It could be in the form of some email prompts or a webinar or newsletters or via an intranet.

In summary

Innovation Training should be fun, engaging but most of all it has to work.

In short, like any training it has to stick.

It has to deliver a return on time invested.

These suggestions will help you deliver an innovation training program that is sustainable and rewarding for everyoen concerned.

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