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Keeping the momentum after an innovation training

Every year, companies invest billions of dollar for training their employees. Do you think it’s worth it?

As savvy creative thinkers, let’s do situational reframing and look at corporate training from different perspectives:

  • Naturally, the corporate training industry argues that for a firm to be successful and keep up with all the changes in the fast-evolving, highly competitive business environment of the early 21st century, there is no option other than to invest in HR Development.
  • How do employees look at training? Nowadays, the majority of employees understand the need of continued learning and actively engage to raise their own HR capital value. Sadly, there are still staff and even managers left who regard training purely as an additional holiday reward of their employer.
  • Finally, let’s now take the corporate viewpoint. While a few firms and managers still frown on training and see it as a waste of money, most firms look at HR Development as an important investment into the future (plus a chance to foster teamwork and promote cross-divisional collaboration). But when they invest in this intangible value, many top managers legitimately ask: “How can we make sure that the money invested in a training really pays off? How to get a return on our training investment?” When we have client meetings with HR Managers and Managing Directors, we often hear this question restated in the following form: “What can we do to keep the momentum after completing an innovation training?”

At Thinkergy, we responded to this identified client need by creating a corresponding reference guide for HR Managers or Innovation Managers. Today, I share with you 20 (of a total of 111) action ideas on how to capitalize on your innovation training investment:

  1. Encourage more systematic thinking in both innovation and general business projects by alternating between divergent thinking and convergent in line with X-IDEA, our systematic innovation method: First Xplore the case. Next Ideate for a pool of raw ideas using creativity tools, which you then Develop into a number of realistic idea concepts. Then, Evaluate all solutions to find those vital few concepts that you finally want to take Action on and bring to live.
  2. Enforce proper Brainstorming in Ideation sessions (by strictly adhering to the 4 ground rules of Ideation when Brainstorming for ideas), and apply a range of different creativity tools that go beyond pure Brainstorming.
  3. Separate Ideation (Brainstorming) meetings and Idea Development meetings from Evaluation meetings.
  4. Set ambitious and realistic idea quotas for every ideation meeting and idea development meeting.
  5. Set-up a separate Ideation Meeting Room in your organization, where judgment and criticism is forbidden and wild and outrageous ideas are welcome and even expected.
  6. Launch an “Initiative of the Month”-Award that celebrates employees who took initiative and tried something new, regardless of whether the initiative succeeded or failed; make sure to harvest and share the learning in both cases.
  7. Set-up a “Challenge Bank” to centrally collect and capture important challenges (organizational problems or opportunities) that you can then turn into real-life innovation projects.
  8. Create a Question Bank to capture and share relevant business questions for your firm. Distinguish between average (“Who are our customers?”), good (“Who are —by choice— not our customers?”) and great questions (“Who are not our customers that should have already become our customers a long time ago?”).
  9. Host a rapid prototyping competition to kick-start a rapid prototyping culture in your organization and make rapid prototyping a part of daily life in the organization.
  10. Set-up a Corporate Innovation Pipeline (comprising an Innovation Backburner, a Pitch Pipeline and an Activation Pipeline) that is regularly updated and reviewed by the Innovation Manager.
  11. Track down Un-Knowledge: Whenever working on a new topic, fight overconfidence by habitually asking: “What is it that we do not know yet about the subject here?”
  12. Think more analog: Encourage managers and employees to do more conceptual thinking and ideation on a large, blank pieces of paper rather that on the computer.
  13. Create a library or online database of interesting related and unrelated stimuli (e.g., articles, quotations, photos, books, items, sketches, charts, illustrations, tables, numerical data or statistics, and of course a set of creativity techniques etc.) that may provide employees with idea stimuli for ideation efforts.
  14. Create an Insights Bank on company, division and team-level where you collect and share important new business insights on customers, competitors, markets, trends, etc.
  15. Be more visual in your meetings by sketching out problems and issues, and by capturing information in the form of a concept map.
  16. Create an innovative system of meaningful key performance indicators (KPI) to effectively measure the innovation inputs, throughputs and outputs at corporate, divisional and team level. Make the innovation team results become one core parameter affecting the bonus payments of a manager.
  17. Set-up a centrally located in-house library with books and periodicals on innovation, creativity, serious thinking, visual thinking, decision-making, design, branding, marketing and management.
  18. Remind employees to adopt the appropriate mindset of systematic innovation that corresponds with the type of thinking that is required in a certain meeting; also adopt the five mindsets of innovation when going through an innovation project.
  19. Check your assumptions: Have teams or business units list the core assumptions related to their business or work once every two years, and then check out the continued validity of each listed item.
  20. And last but not least: Hold one or two real-life innovation projects per year that target the creation of new evolutionary or revolutionary value for your customer or your organization. Consider partnering with an outside innovation firm, who takes care for guiding you towards meaningful innovation results. Or do you think you can how to swim without getting yourself wet and into the water?

Are you interested to get the full list of action ideas with detailed descriptions on how exactly you can implement each action in real life? If so, then please contact Thinkergy and invest in one of our experiential, systematic innovation training courses.