Training Accelerates Innovation

Aug 24, 2018 | 575 views

By Gregg Fraley


94% of managers are unsatisfied with their company’s innovation performance.

70% of CEO’s see innovation as a key driver of growth.

That’s what McKinsey says in this article.

Why then are teams woefully undertrained in innovation fundamentals?

Energy is Not Enough, Get Training in Innovation 

When I step into a room to facilitate a strategy, innovation, or idea generation session I usually find a great deal of energy. Almost always. People really want to do good work. What I also often find is inexperience that cripples their desires. Specifically:

- No fluidity in free-associative divergent thinking necessary to innovate — people do not know how to think like innovators! And yes, this can be trained.

- Inappropriate meeting behavior that shuts down others, hosing collaborative work. Teams and work groups don’t know how to be collaborative.

- Lack of facilitation skills that go beyond charting on a white board or flip chart. Hiring a professional facilitator can be a big help, but facilitative leadership is something that needs to be around 100% of the time.

- Poor knowledge of innovation process, approaches and frameworks. How can you innovate if you don’t actually know how it’s done? Maybe that’s one reason why 94% of managers are unsatisfied with innovation performance?

Energy, motivation, and inspiration are important factors in getting innovation rolling. But none of those factors, or all of them together, are enough to overcome untrained thinking, poor session facilitation, and an un-anchored or non-existent innovation approach. What’s needed is energy AND knowledge about How To Do Innovation.

Your innovation efforts will fail without training.

Yes, you can train people in creative thinking, Front-End-of-Innovation (FEI) frameworks, problem solving, and meeting facilitation. You need focused imaginative, divergent, visioning, strategic, and conceptual thinking -- and training can get you there. The research that says brainstorming doesn’t work studied groups with no training and no facilitator. Training the teams, having a skilled facilitator in-house, and frequent practice of divergent thinking are essential to effective idea generation sessions.  When you have trained teams and leaders, you’ve got the basics in place for 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 beIt’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, that turn into innovation projects, 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 Lean, Agile, CPS and Design Thinking are essential. Knowing how to adapt and blend frameworks to your needs is no longer advanced practice in innovation. Blended frameworks and tools are now standard in organizations that do innovation well. 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. New methods like Gregg Fraley Innovation (GFi) MoshPit Service can also be taught and used — without outside facilitators.

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.