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    Colorado Innovation Training

    CRC-logo-final1A brief post to make sure you know about the upcoming Denver, CO public course in Advanced Innovation Facilitation.  This is a high value training. It’s partially sponsored so the price is much lower than usual. Here’s a page with details.

    It’s next week Starting Wednesday February 1, continuing on Feb 2, finishing at noon on Feb. 3rd.

    Essentially this is intensive, hands-on workshop that trains people in innovation frameworks, and tools for strategy, ideation, research, and project management. It’s being held at the Community Research Center and I’m working with CO local Kim Smoyer of Smoyer & Associates.

    It’s a course for innovation project managers, consultants, intrapreneurs, and entrepreneurs who want to have more productive strategy, idea generation, and innovation action plans. If you’re with a non-profit you might find that this training is the perfect thing for creating better services and experiences for your support bases — and how about better ideas for fund-raising? I’ll touch on topics like innovation frameworks (including Design Thinking), cycles, team formation, Challenge Mapping, usage of trends and research, idea generation or brainstorming techniques, idea or concept development, usage of story and improvisation, and more.

    One very different aspect of this training is the time spent on exploring how to do Concept Blending. This is how innovation is created, by blending heretofor not combined concepts. It’s almost magic, and yet it’s nearly always left to chance. Master trainer Gregg Fraley (yes that’s me) will show you how to scaffold thinking of a group towards amazing innovative concept combinations.

    Blowing my own horn here but you’ll be hard pressed to find a better preparation course to manage innovation projects and sessions.  Ask the folks at Hershey, YUM, Johnsonville Sausage, University of Chicago, and Sanofi Pharma — they’ve all taken the course. One reason is they are now able to facilitate their own strategy and ideation sessions, that can save a lot of money.

    Register through CRC here.

    I hope to see you next week, please write or call if you want more detail. 773-251-8567.

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    Get a Grip on Innovation — 10 Questions, 20 Minutes

    Get a Grip on Innovation — 10 Questions, 20 Minutes Ten questions for you to focus on assessing the state of your organization’s innovation program. Twenty minutes to learn something and take action steps. If you think your current program is working, non-existent, or just a disaster — you will learn something by taking this quick survey. Yes, there are other ways to assess innovation culture that are more thorough (such as Teresa Amabile Ph.D. “KEYS“). However, the purpose of these ten questions is to get you off the dime and into action around your innovation program/department. If these questions raise any red flags, you might need to go deeper, perhaps using a qualitative approach. But in the interest of




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    Invest in Innovation Skill Building

    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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    Projects Are How Innovation Happens

    Projects, Projects, Projects Innovation is complex and difficult — but one thing about it is not. What’s quite simple about innovation is that projects are what make innovation real. The following concepts, frameworks, approaches, etc. are Not Innovation.  Unless they are in the context of an actual project. Thinking about things is not innovation Having beers and kicking ideas around are not innovation Brainstorming sessions are not innovation Idea Campaigns are not innovation Guided visualizations are not innovation Design Thinking is not innovation Creative Problem Solving is not innovation DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats are not innovation Lean is not innovation Prototyping is not innovation Crowd sourcing or Open innovation are not innovation TQM and Six Sigma are not innovation Defining




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    Fast Company’s Brainstorming Fail

    Fast Company Article “Brainstorming is Dumb” Misses the Point Brainstorming, Done Properly, Is Not a Tool, It’s A Multi-Step Process See BrainWriting How-To Instructions at the Bottom of this Post* Here we go again. And yet another major publication publishes a misleading article about brainstorming — Brainstorming is Dumb. This happens about every six months. This time it’s Fast Company. The article gets a few things right, but misses the big picture, and smears a giant of the field, Alex Osborn. The headline is dead wrong, but wonderfully provocative. Fast Company missed an opportunity to inform more fully at the very least. The omission is so large one wonders if they have a fact checker on staff. The big picture




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    Innovation Strategy Power Tools

    Challenge Mapping & IdeaKeg Do you want to cut through the clutter when it comes to innovation strategy? Are you sorting through plans for year-end strategy and ideation sessions? Are you at the very front end of innovation and not sure where to go, where to start? Are you asking questions like these (you should be!): What projects might we get started before the end of the year? What might be our innovation focus for 2017? How might we leverage those research insights we’ve developed? What trends and ideas outside our industry might we adapt to innovate? These questions can be tough to sort out. I’m suggesting here two bits of “sorting out” technology. Consider using two powerful innovation and




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    Innovation Facilitator Tool Kit

    I am sometimes asked what a Facilitator should have in their kit bag. Here’s my answer — the Innovation Facilitator Tool Kit list. The items are below in bold. Many have links to where you can source the materials. I’m assuming the facilitator is a hands-on project leader who facilitates meetings, such as idea generation or strategy sessions. I did not take into consideration travel via plane or car. Obviously, some things are more portable than others. Consider this a master list which you can subset for your needs. Some of these items are not available off the shelf retail, so, put this kit together ahead of time so you can focus on design and executing your session plan as




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    Temporary Innovation Veep

    The case for bringing in a temporary Innovation Veep.* “On Call Innovation Director/Mentor/Trainer”? What really changes innovation culture? Are you seeking a change in your innovation approach? Is your organization mired in a non-innovative swamp? First let me say what does NOT change innovation culture. It’s not that these services that I’ll mention below can’t be helpful, they can. But on there own, they will not change innovation at your organization. There’s one thing that will change culture and I talk about that at the bottom of this post. Don’t skip ahead. * Let me acknowledge the ideas of author Michael Foster — we discussed these concepts about a Temp Veep over coffee in San Jose a few weeks ago




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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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    Changing Innovation Culture by Doing — Three Reasons It Doesn’t Happen

    Innovation culture doesn’t change with assessment or analysis. You can learn a great deal about who you are and what your culture is like with the various assessment tools, but knowing isn’t changing. I’m a huge fan of KEYS, FourSight, and other assessment tools but they are not the answer. Training can help, but training alone will not do the job either. What changes innovation culture then? Doing. You change culture by Doing.  When employees are empowered to solve problems and those solutions are put into play, it’s motivating. It changes hearts and minds. And it changes them faster than anything else. Min Basadur says it’s the only way a culture will change. I agree with Min. Min’s been around




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