Idea Management

    Training is an Innovation Accelerant

    trainingfireCreativity and innovation training is a highly effective accelerant for business results.

    When I step into a room to facilitate an innovation, strategy, or idea generation session I nearly always find a great deal of energy.

    What I also often find is inexperience — in the kind of thinking necessary to innovate.

    Successful managers and leaders are promoted up the ladder because of their great analytical thinking skills. Day to day, operationally, that’s what’s called for and that’s what’s rewarded. The bad news is the more imaginative and divergent thinking required at the front end of innovation is rarely used and almost never rewarded. That’s why those sessions often start with a great deal of pizazz but fade into lethargy right after lunch. A good facilitator can help but the artist formerly known as Prince couldn’t keep some of these sessions rockin. Mercy!

    Energy, motivation, even inspiration are important factors in getting innovation rolling. But none of them, or all of them together, are enough to overcome untrained thinking. Creative thinking skills are taken for granted — and that’s a problem because without training and practice very few people are naturally good at creative thinking. Everyone is creative, everyone has that capacity, but it’s latent until trained. I have the capacity to run a Marathon — it’s possible — but if I went out there today I’d be lucky to walk 26 miles.

    Yes, you can train the various aspects of creative thinking (imaginative, divergent, visioning, strategic, conceptual). If you want idea generation of any kind to work – don’t skip training. Much of the research that says brainstorming doesn’t work studied groups with no training. Training, a good facilitator, and frequent practice are foundational elements to effective sessions and organizational innovation culture.

    That difficult bit of  invention that analysis can’t quite solve on its own is especially challenging for corporations. Training can make 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. It’s the creative thinking that builds on that research and insight that gets you workable concepts and ultimately market results.

    Managers, leaders, and innovation teams need to understand how to think about innovation — and they need to know how to think and implement innovation. It doesn’t just happen.

    You’ll see immediate and positive results with creativity and innovation training. Min Basadur did a rigorous study, see here, and that’s not the only proof. Individuals learn how to think and express ideas in a more positive, focused, and free flowing way with certain types of creativity training. Teams achieve breakthrough results when properly facilitated through through a rapid, flexible, but structured process at the front end of innovation. Frameworks like CPS are essential. 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.

    Creativity training feeds innovation process like wood wool feeds flame.

    The creative training many experts advocate is structured Creative Problem Solving training (CPS, aka ‘Osborn-Parnes model’) and Front End of Innovation process training (FEI). CPS is a time-tested framework. Many innovation consultants use CPS or their own modified versions of CPS (see my business novel about CPS, Jack’s Notebook.) CPS is broad enough and flexible enough to incorporate Design Thinking tools and even applied improvisation games. FEI process training is about how to conduct and orchestrate a series of activities that happen before the classic stage-gate/pipeline of new product development. Stage-gate is in the textbooks. FEI training is being done, but is relatively obscure. CPS training is generally more available — but not ubiquitous.

    If you have a team that is already trained, take it to the next level with an Improv to Innovate workshop. Improv isn’t just about comedy — it’s about improved access to spontaneous thinking, and applied creativity to business challenges.

    Sadly, it’s notable that as an innovation budget line item — it is often left out entirely, or, it’s the first sacrificial lamb to be cut. It should be the first thing done because creativity and innovation training is an accelerant towards more rapid business results.

    Training Accelerates Innovation in Five Strategic Ways:

    1. Improved creative thinking skill leads to more breakthrough new business concepts
    2. Training helps instil structured creative thinking and innovation process as a cultural value and habit
    3. CPS and FEI training provide innovation teams with a common language and framework to solve problems. This means expedited resolution of challenges and more rapid iteration of new business concepts
    4. 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.
    5. Team efficiency improves because a lot of useless chatter, debate, and conflict is reduced or eliminated

    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, and from day one. Imagine creativity applied to research, platform question framing, idea generation, concept development, and management presentations. Imagine an innovation framework your team can get better and better at…

    Creative training is the fuel for innovation fire.

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    Ten Ideas for Using Innovation Film Clips

    I’ve written an article on Innovation in movies – Inspiring Innovation Films: a Top Ten List.  It’s been published on the Innovation Excellence portal — I’d be most grateful if you’d read it and comment over there. Today’s post is a value add to that article with some ideas on how to use creativity and innovation clips in projects and meetings. If you’re an innovation educator, manager, or team leader you may want to consider using clips as training and/or stimulus tools. I’m a big one for keeping things entertaining no matter what you’re doing. Movie clips are a great way to do that. Here are Ten Ideas on how to integrate film clips into an innovation project: Send out a

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    Ideational Speaker, Gregg Fraley

    I do keynotes on creativity and innovation topics — and this is not something I hide. It’s all over my website and I do my best to promote my speaking on FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and in my blog postings. So, it’s not unusual for me to be confronted — at a cocktail party or a business meeting — with the comment: So you’re a “Motivational Speaker.” It’s a fair observation, but it’s really…inexact when it comes to describing what I actually do. It’s not Wrong, but there’s more to my speaking than motivation. My talks are about ideas, so really, I’m an Ideational Speaker.  Yes, I make an effort to motivate people to be more creative and innovative. So, I

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    KILN Continues to Innovate Innovation Services

    I’m off to the FEI show (Front End of Innovation) in Boston this week. In my view it’s the most serious innovation conference in the world, and the USA edition features speakers and participants from a who’s who of international organizations. I’m particularly interested in hearing Denise Morrison CEO of Campbell Soup about their use of culture in the innovation process, and also Nelson Farris of Nike about corporate storytelling. It will be great to catch up with Idea Management System vendors like CogniStreamer, and innovation service firms like Ideas To Go and Maddock Douglas. They’re always doing something new. I’m glad the show is in Boston. After the recent troubles it feels appropriate that a conference dedicated to positive change is

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    Creative Resilience: Working with the Clay of Opportunity

    Guerilla Innovation Chapter 10 In the previous post/chapter of Guerilla Innovation we talked about “amping ideas.” I reviewed two tools for doing so. They’re good tools. And…there’s more to it than those techniques. Idea amping is a way of life for an entrepreneur — and especially so for a small business one. Nobody will do the hard work of making something special for you. Something in our culture encourages you to quit when things become unreasonable. Yet, entrepreneurship is in many ways being unreasonable with yourself — and accepting the lemons people give you and making lemonade. Being an entrepreneur is a contrarian state. Unreasonable, in the sense that you go beyond what reason or logic would dictate to you is

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    Notebooking is Innovation Viagra

    Guerilla Innovation Chapter Five Notebooking is Innovation Viagra What do Leonardo DaVinci, Thomas Edison, Jack Kerouac, Beatrix Potter, Madame Curie, and Twyla Tharp all have in common? They all do Idea Notebooks. Call the behavior Notebooking. It’s not just ideas, it’s also questions, facts, observations — products of your curiosity. The big company version of Notebooking is an Idea Management System (IMS). Notebooks are the IMS for small business innovators. You have a Jungle Business Plan in your purse or man bag. It’s a short document that forms the outline of what you are doing in your quest for innovation. It’s a guide and you’re actively working it, evolving as the landscape in front of you changes. You use creative

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    Guerilla Innovation Strategies for Small Biz, An Introduction

    I participate when I can in a Twitter-based chat session, called Innochat. It happens every Thursday around noon USA eastern time. Most of the participants are innovation geeks like myself, consultants, writers, company innovation directors, professors, etc. — tune in, it’s interesting. Last Thursday we were chatting about innovation books. There are a ton of innovation books out there, some of which I’ve reviewed here. The insight that seemed to dawn on several of us at the same time is that there really isn’t a great innovation book geared for small business. Scott D. Anthony’s recent Little Black Book of Innovation comes close, but, forgive me for saying so, there is a certain “MBA-speak” (and just MBA ‘think’) even in

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    Scaffolding to Better Ideas #2 (Getting More From Virtual Idea Generation)

    Virtual idea generation is a growing trend in innovation. A trend I wholeheartedly endorse because it widens the cohort that normally contribute to “brainstorming” efforts. It gives people time to think and then post ideas as time allows in the nooks and crannies of their day-to-day jobs. It’s a great way to make idea generation and innovation part of the culture of an organization. It’s usually done with an Idea Management System (IMS) but in a pinch, it can be done with something like GoogleDocs or even email. Basically, you put out a focused innovation question and you ask for ideas. The virtual session could be as short as a few days, or as long as a few months. In

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    Why Stepping Up as Innovation Team Leader is Insane

    It’s easy to understand why many managers are not interested at all in heading up an innovation team. Saying no is the sane choice. The truth is Innovation Team Leadership is usually a thankless job. It’s often a job on top of another job. In other words, a lot of extra work spent on innovation initiatives means it’s a killer to keep up with the business-as-usual-operational job. So, that’s usually enough to kill innovation leadership motivation. But wait, there’s more! Not only is it a ton of work, it’s high risk. Many, even most, innovation efforts fail. Failure doesn’t look good come job and salary review time. People spout a lot of happy talk about learning from failure but the

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    Half-Year Innovation Check Point

    Oh my, it’s summer. Officially. Two seasons of 2012 are now history. This is the perfect time to take a half-year checkpoint on your innovation efforts. On July 1, you’ll have six months left to get something done, or, complete something already underway. Here’s the checkpoint survey, suitable to print and take to your next meeting: What have you accomplished so far this year? How many “cycles” have you accomplished? How many ideas generated? How many promoted? How many prototypes done, how many concepts put in front of management?  Don’t know? I’d call that a red flag. Kudo’s to those who have efforts underway and are pushing the envelope. For those who have nothing to show for the first half of

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