Improvisation

    Training is an Innovation Accelerant II

    trainingfireDo You Wish To Accelerate Innovation? Get Training!

    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

    Here are details regarding a half day Innovation Intensive course I’m conducting at Workspring in Chicago on October 27th, 2017.

    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:

    1. Improved creative thinking skills leads to more breakthrough new business concepts to consider.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    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. 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.

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    Colorado Innovation Training

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    Invest in Your Innovation Capacity In my various consulting engagements I have learned not to take much for granted. I thought by this year in history (2016) everyone in the business world would have a clue as to how to do ideation (aka brainstorming) properly. Wow, not even close. It’s a glaring missing ingredient in staying competitive. It’s a key to growth and it’s routinely done poorly. The art and science of developing valid business ideas has a formula. There are variations but at the heart of it you have: Problem Framing, Ideation, Idea Development, and Actions. Within each of those areas there are tools and techniques. If you know them, and use them in the context of an innovation




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    Shake Your Booty The Creativity and Innovation point of this blog takes about three paragraphs to develop, so business readers, let me tell you a brief story to set it up. I was having dinner this week with Gary Schwartz, a fine actor and Improv person who was blowing through Chicago to promote his new children’s book, The King of Average.  Gary studied with a hero of mine, Viola Spolin (he’s the leading expert on her games and methods). As we talked about Improv and I heard some of his stories I was particularly impressed with one story having to do with “getting into the body” of a role. The Story: So Gary was playing the role of a Roman




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    Five Magic Imagination Guidelines

    Five Magic Imagination Guidelines You hear it so often that it becomes one of those things that you really don’t think about it. “Use your imagination” is the phrase or thought that I’m talking about. I believe that many of us actually fear our own imagination. That’s tragic, don’t be afraid. It occurs to me that most people have the desire, deep down, to use their imagination more — but have no idea how. Here’s how. First of all Access your imagination more often. Do it deliberately. If you ask your imagination for ideas or visions once a year it’s a bit like that faucet in the back of the house you never use. When you turn it on, it’s




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    21 Rules for Innovation Team Building

    I revised this “rule of thumb” list for a client and she suggested I re-share it in a blog post. This list is the accumulated wisdom of many years and it includes thinking from colleagues in the innovation space. Its target is the innovation team leader, but there are lessons for all types of team members here. The big change from the previous version is the emphasis on projects. It’s the key to Innovation in my view, from culture change to positive team dynamics to effectiveness of an overall innovation program. It’s the one thing of innovation — doing Projects. So here goes: 21 Rules for Innovation Team Building 1. A strong bold project initiative, with a clear vision for




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    Innovation Facilitation — Death is Easy, Magic Takes Training

    Three Essentials for Magical Innovation Facilitation An essential ingredient to successful innovation projects is good facilitation. Who could argue with that? Innovation combines individual and group activities. Good group collaboration is not a given. Even individual activities need coordination with the group effort. You really need an inspiring, confident, well-trained facilitator to enable innovation. I’m talking about running and managing strategy meetings, ideation sessions, virtual sessions (using IMS), concept writing sessions, and other group work. A good facilitator makes a world of difference in the results of these group meetings and activities. And yet, in the long list of things that can go wrong in innovation initiatives, it’s often the one that is overlooked or taken for granted. The problem




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    Improv and Innovation Do Mix

    Improv and Innovation do mix — and it’s not funny. You don’t have to be funny for Improv training to be useful in innovation. There are two things holding back more business people from pushing the Improv training button: 1.) They believe that Improv is difficult and that you need to have a funny bone, and, 2.) They believe that while Improv might be a good soft skill there is no direct and near term benefit to innovation (or other corporate goals). Classic improvisation games can help solve serious business problems and you don’t have to be particularly clever or funny. The benefits of using Improv — if done properly — are immediate. If you want the specifics of how,




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    Training is an Innovation Accelerant

    Creativity 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




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    Indigan Storytellers Debut

    I had the pleasure of participating in the debut performance evening of the Indigan Storytellers group last Friday night. As Rocky Balboa once said “you shoulda been there.” It was an intimate evening of exquisitely told stories coupled with fine hand-crafted whiskey. The location was Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, Michigan. The room was packed and a good time was had by all. I report on the event here for two reasons. First, because Storytelling as an art form is creativity of the highest order. Innovators of all kinds have much to learn about the craft as a method to elaborate new inventions, messages, and brands. Learning how to write and then perform a 10 minute story is an exercise




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