Innovation Academy Overview

As a result of working with over 1,200 companies during the past 17 years we developed the Innovation Academy which is an intensive two-day*, hands-on program that instills an Entrepreneurial Mindset and Innovation Skill Set within an organization’s personnel. This program is designed to turn a company’s staff into a fountainhead of innovation for the enterprise. The reason this training is critical is that unfortunately people just don’t think in terms of innovation unless they are specifically taught and guided how to do so.

There are two different versions of the Innovation Academy, a public version and a company specific one. The company specific version uses particular information from the organization for which the Innovation Academy is being conducted to illustrate the material being presented. This results in a customized Innovation Academy that is exclusively presented to the organization’s personnel.

Whereas, in the public Innovation Academy various executive and management level personnel from the multiple organizations in attendance are introduced to the material in a way that is applicable to the various companies in attendance. Therefore, it is not a customized, company specific presentation. The same eight areas are covered during both types of workshops.

*Alternatively, the Innovation Academy can be implemented in four, one-half day sessions, but this approach is not as effective as an intensive two-day experience in which the participants are immersed in the world of innovation.

Day 1

Employee Engagement

To conceive and develop innovations that can transform an organization, laying a proper foundation of employee engagement is first required. This is because no matter where the innovations come from, it is an organization’s staff who are going to make them a reality. For innovation to successfully to occur personnel must be fully engaged in a company.

Studies have shown there are seven key ingredients that must be in place to maximize employee engagement. Using an organization’s particulars and unique attributes, we develop and apply all seven of these elements to a company thereby motivating and inspiring personnel in a way that results in them becoming fully engaged with an organization. The resulting Employee Engagement becomes a crucial foundation of an organization’s innovation initiative.

Successful Business Structure

Virtually every employee asks, “What is the significance of my job? How does my role fit into the grand scheme or overall picture of our company?”

Utilizing our unique and comprehensive Structure of Success™ methodology this segment of the Innovation Academy addresses the question of how all the components of a company or any organization interact and operate. This includes showing them how their position in their organization is an important piece in meeting their customer’s needs.

As a result of this session personnel understand how all the moving parts of a business fit together – which is a key building block of innovation. They will have a new-found appreciation of what are the necessary elements of a truly successful organization and the importance of their role in a company – which in turn fosters innovation. The participants are then guided in applying this knowledge to their jobs in a way that begins to light the fire of innovation within them.

Employee Entrepreneurship

Instilling an Entrepreneurial Mindset in personnel is necessary to properly innovate because the secret to entrepreneurs being successful is that they view the world from a unique perspective. This unique orientation enables them to see the world as a place of opportunities just waiting to addressed. This perspective allows them to focus like a laser on what customers are looking for and deliver these solutions. We have found that there are seven elements of an entrepreneurial mindset which provide the framework for developing innovations that will be attractive to customers.

During this segment, we use an organization’s distinct attributes and background to focus on the above seven elements to nurture and develop an entrepreneurial mentality within one’s team. Once this outlook is present in an organization’s team they will begin to see the flow of innovations for which they are looking. The result of instilling an entrepreneurial mindset in a firm’s personnel is that experiences worth repeating will be created for their customers which in turn will generate additional revenue for a company.

Innovation Infrastructure

To create a sustainable innovation initiative within an organization requires that a number of infrastructure elements be put in place. Otherwise, innovation efforts will quickly dissipate, and personnel will become jaded regarding an organization’s current and any future innovation initiatives. Utilizing the company’s information, we communicate one’s innovation infrastructure to personnel in a way that will excite them about the organization’s innovation efforts.

There are nine foundations that comprise a proper Innovation Infrastructure. Among other things we discuss how an organization intends to lead their innovation initiative, the culture it wishes to create, its innovation strategy, the areas outside of the company from which they will solicit innovations, its approach to recognizing, rewarding and celebrating innovation, the role their managers will play with regards to innovation, the innovation metrics they will track, how it will evaluate innovations, the ongoing coaching and guidance that will be provided to them and how they plan to manage the flow of innovations.

Day 2

Ideation Tools – Innovation Master Tool Set

To be able to successfully innovate personnel need tools to utilize in the innovation process. These tools are encompassed within our Innovation Master Tool Set and consist of “ideation”, “development” and “commercialization” tool sub-sets. In this session, we train an organization’s personnel on how to utilize the ideation sub-category of innovation tools.

The unique attribute and underlying foundation of our ideation tool set training is that it is an organic, natural approach to ideation because new ideas and innovation should be the by-product of an employee’s normal daily activities. While some of our ideation tools do entail the use dedicated innovation time, use of many of the tools becomes just part of a person’s normal operating routine.

In other words, ideation should be like breathing – a person doesn’t think about it, they just do it. So, it should be with ideation – a person is just subliminally thinking about and looking for innovation opportunities. Therefore, once trained, this ideation skill just runs in the background of a person’s mind while they do their daily activities.

Once personnel have been trained on using this tool set they will see the opportunities for innovations virtually everywhere and will become a well-spring of innovation for an organization. An additional benefit of this training is they will have a new awareness of how to have a company’s customer’s perspective at heart in whatever they do and how to stay customer focused.

Development and Commercialization Tools – Innovation Master Tool Set

The entire area of innovation can be daunting to many people because they lack the “tools” to take an idea through to a commercialized product. In this session people are trained on the tools that will enable the development of ideas into workable innovations and the final activities necessary for the commercialized release of an innovation. Use of these innovation tools enable personnel to effectively proceed through the innovation cycle in an intentional way – thus speeding the development of innovations. This results in them creating high quality innovations – thereby permitting an organization to stay ahead of its competition.

Additionally, the keys to creating an atmosphere of innovation and how to validate one’s invention or innovation will be covered. The development and implementation of Innovation Teams will also be discussed including the guidance of and reporting on Innovation Team results. Training will also be provided on how to ensure that one creates viable, customer-centric innovations. Finally, training on use of Innovation Pipeline Management software will be provided.

Innovation Master Tool Set Practice

Once employees have been trained on the Innovation Master Tool Set they will have ample time in this segment to practice using the tools. They will utilize the tools and related processes in both individual and team settings. As part of this training they will form into groups of 5 to 10 people so they can see how innovation should operate in a team setting. During this hands-on innovation tool implementation training they will actually be developing innovations an organization can immediately utilize.

In this session individual team member coaching and Innovation Team facilitation is provided. A by-product of this innovation tool usage training is that an atmosphere of innovation starts to be created within a company while employees experience how a collaborative innovation culture functions. By using a structured, systematic approach to innovation personnel will start to develop an innovative organizational identity and will begin to see innovations throughout a company.

Shark Attack Event

In a fun-filled, mini-Shark Tank like concluding session, each team will present their innovation to a panel of three judges who will evaluate the innovations for merit. Depending on the level of the participants, the judges can either be the managers of participants, the organization’s executives or actual “Sharks” from the hit TV Program Stark Tank. The winning teams are then recognized for their achievements. As a result of this session personnel begin to experience recognition of, rewarding and celebrating innovation in a way the truly gets them excited and engaged with creating innovations for a company.

Closing remarks and “homework assignments” are also given to participants so they will begin to utilize their innovation tool set immediately. Finally, all the innovations that have been developed are entered in Innovation Pipeline Management software, so they can be reviewed and examined for potential commercial development by the organization for which the Innovation Academy is being conducted.

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