In the course of two decades of working in corporate innovation and innovation training, I have learned one thing through painful experience: everyone wants to be an innovator. There is something primal about being an innovator, even approaching a birthright.
Yet the media worships just a handful of innovators so extraordinary in their success that many of us mere mortals feel disempowered in comparison. In the radiance surrounding Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, we somehow come to feel “less than” innovative. But surely humans can vary in our innovation abilities, just as we vary in our height, eye color, facility for languages, speed or endurance. So there you have it: the idea that we are all innovators, yet the desire – even the societal pressure – to become more of one.
This is why you may find yourself looking for innovation training one day, either for yourself or for your organization. Innovation training is a bustling segment of the Talent Development Industry, and we noticed a lack of any overarching guide to the topic. This Ultimate Guide to Innovation Training will help you sort through the different kinds of innovation training out there, and the different goals they serve, so you may narrow in on the right solution for you.
Five Goals of Innovation Training
Let’s start off with five major reasons someone might seek out innovation training:
- To inspire
- To engage
- To inform
- To manage
- To do
Here is a brief explanation of these five training goals, and the kinds of training solutions that meet each goal:
Here a company or leader wants to inspire their people with stories of great innovators or great innovations. They may book a keynote speaker to rouse their troops, or put their people through a curriculum on great innovators. Or they may take their leaders on a tour of Silicon Valley. Yes, they may pick up on concepts and language, but the main takeaway is inspiration.
Sometimes companies use innovation as an employee engagement strategy. Team innovation training may seek to develop an understanding of each member’s innovation preferences. In addition, while not strictly training, idea campaigns, hackathons and other employee events can be used to engage the troops. Some participants will get awards, prizes and other forms of recognition. But typically few of the ideas are implemented, because that was not the intent, and the project is often not structured to move beyond winning ideas.
Or, a company or leader may want to familiarize their people with key concepts in innovation. They may bring in experts on emerging technologies, or hire a consultant to give an overview of popular topics such as Lean Start-up. The recipients are to ingest this information, but no tangible change is expected. The goal is to stay abreast of developments and to inform.
Another reason that leaders might seek innovation training is to manage innovation more effectively in their organization. This kind of innovation training may include inspiration and information, but the focus is on learning the methods and structures to manage innovation in others. Such courses may lead to certification as an innovation manager.
Finally, there is the kind of training meant to make you better at doing innovation yourself, or as a team. There is a wide spectrum of approaches to this, from individual courses, to team experiences, to university extension courses. Some of these focus on creativity, a component of innovation. Others focus on steps or theories in innovation, e.g. design thinking, agile development, business model design, or even coding. But the main idea is for you to become a stronger innovator.
We hope this brief summary helps you think through your goals clearly, and choose your innovation training accordingly.