Training Your Team to Innovate

To drive innovation across your company, you must train your employees how to innovate. Innovation is a skill, not a gift, and it can be learned like any other skill. Go back to your innovation competency model. Start there to think about the training needed to get employees up to speed.

For example, for generating ideas, you could apply a method called Systematic Inventive Thinking, or SIT for short. It’s based on five simple patterns that can be applied to any product, process, or service to create new-to-the-world innovations.

To learn more about how to use this method, see my course called Business Innovation Foundations.

Here are some suggested ways to conduct innovation training in your company:

First are what I call Open Seminars. These are two or three day workshops that are open to all employees. The maximum class size is 24, and you want each participant to bring with them something from their job to work on during the class.

Another approach is to have training with Intact Teams, meaning the participants are all from the same team – an R&D team or a finance team for example. I recommend keeping these smaller, say 12 to 16 participants max. These sessions are more like workshops where the team applies innovation to specific challenges, and these last anywhere from half a day to three days.

Many companies conduct executive leadership programs for high potential employees – those with potential to become senior leaders. Creativity is a critical skill for leaders, so companies devote a full day or more on innovation within these one to two week programs.

You also want to focus training on new and potential employees. Some companies create innovation internships so they can evaluate a potential employee’s skill before hiring.

Online training such as what you’re doing right now is another effective way to drive innovation. Online courses are flexible, efficient, and repeatable. Employees can go back and watch online course material to tune up their skills.

And finally, a quick way to start innovation training is to partner with a college or university by either sending employees to innovation training courses or having the institution conduct private corporate training at your offices. Methods like SIT are being taught at many business, design, and engineering schools.

Training makes innovation come alive. Conducting training sessions sends a powerful message to your employees that you’re serious about innovation.