When I step into a room to facilitate an innovation, strategy, or idea generation session I always find a great deal of energy. What I also often find is inexperience. Inexperience in:
- the kind of divergent thinking necessary to innovate,
- in specific meeting behaviors and facilitation skills,
- and in innovation process, approaches and frameworks
Energy, motivation, and inspiration are important factors in getting innovation rolling. But none of them, or all of them together, are enough to overcome untrained thinking, poor session facilitation, and an un-anchored or non-existent innovation approach.
Your innovation efforts will fail without training.
Yes, you can train people in creative thinking, Front-End-of-Innovation (FEI) frameworks, and in meeting facilitation. You need focused imaginative, divergent, visioning, strategic, and conceptual thinking. The research that says brainstorming doesn’t work studied groups with no training and no facilitator. Training, a skilled facilitator, and frequent practice are essential to effective ideation sessions and creating a broad and systemic organizational innovation culture.
That difficult bit of invention that analysis can’t quite solve is especially challenging for corporations. Training makes a big difference in bridging the gap between market knowledge and… what could be. It’s not enough to know a market white space. It’s not enough to have “insights” from in-depth research (or what passes for insights). It’s the creative thinking that builds on that research, analysis, and insight that gets you workable innovation concepts and ultimately market results.
You’ll see immediate results with creativity, innovation, and facilitation training. Min Basadur did a rigorous study on the topic, see here, and that’s not the only proof. Teams achieve breakthrough results when properly facilitated through through a rapid, flexible, but structured process at the front end of innovation. Knowledge of frameworks like CPS and Design Thinking are essential. Knowing how to adapt and blend frameworks to your needs is advanced practice in innovation. Power tools like applied improvisation games can help you run faster. Stimulus tools like KILN’s IdeaKeg help you scaffold your thinking using trends from outside your industry or category. Getting to breakthrough isn’t easy, training is an essential stepping stone to excellence in innovation.
Creativity and innovation training feeds innovation like wood wool feeds flame.
Training Accelerates Innovation in Five Strategic Ways:
- Improved creative thinking skills leads to more breakthrough new business concepts to consider.
- Training helps instill structured creative thinking and innovation process as a cultural value, so people will do it all the time and keep innovation spinning.
- CPS and FEI training provide innovation teams with a common language and framework to solve problems. This means expedited resolution of challenges, more rapid iteration of new business concepts, and more implemented innovation.
- Training corrects many of the common myths that surround creativity and innovation. There is a science to this that is largely ignored. For those that learn and practice the science — it’s a competitive advantage.
- Team efficiency improves because a lot of useless chatter, debate, and conflict is reduced or eliminated. Teams that know how to work together creatively are more productive.
If you are in charge of an innovation program or initiative — do training first. All activities that happen afterwards will be performed at a higher level.
Creative training is the fuel for innovation fire. Please Join Me in Chicago on October 27th for a half day Innovation Intensive.