You may work at a university, or you may be putting together a training program for the people at work or a new client. Either way, you’re an educator who wants to teach people about innovation and this post gives you the three steps you need to get started on building an exceptional training program.
Building a curriculum
First of all, you need to think about building a curriculum. What body of knowledge do you want to draw your lessons from? The amount of literature on innovation has exploded, so you most certainly can’t teach it all.
Here are a few pointers that might put you on a good path:
- Lean Startup. This is a nice place to start. Lean Startup is a broad philosophy that creates a nice framework around modern innovation, and a good vocabulary to go with it. A lot of the literature you will find will claim to be part of the Lean Startup school of thought.
- Design thinking. Here’s another approach very much centered around design. It’s about the process all sorts of designers use to identify problems and design solutions.
- Business Modelling. This is the more practical approach of modelling different parts of a business to a new and innovative whole. There are many tools here, such as the well known Business Model Canvas and the popular Lean Canvas.
Start with this list, or simply do a search on Amazon for books on innovation and start reading. You will find an approach that is suitable for you and your context, and adapt it for your own purposes.
Finding the cases
As part of your curriculum, you will want to add a set of good innovation cases. Just the pure theory will be too dry, so you need some good stories to illustrate your lessons.
It will be very tempting to pick the most well known cases, with stories from Apple, Google, Netflix, Amazon and the likes. Don’t do it. Your audience won’t connect with these stories, as they are usually far away and not relevant.
Instead, put in the extra research here. Find some good cases that are relevant for your audience. They should be local (same city, country, continent, in order of preference), in a relatable industry (your public sector audience won’t relate to your Silicon Valley innovation stories) and from companies of a similar size.
When you have this, the audience will sit on the edge of their seat. Instead of telling your insurance company audience about how Google makes autonomous cars, you tell them what a very similar insurance company in a place not so far from them have already succeeded with.
Activating the students
By now you have a nice set of slides and some very good and relevant cases, but you’re not done. Innovation is about action, so simply keeping your audience in their seats for the duration of your training program won’t cut it.
You need to activate them. This will take your training program to the next level. Not only are activities more fun and engaging, but students also retain more knowledge when doing something active.
Use your imagination, of course, but here are a few ideas:
Use games and simulations
Games and other simulations are great for teaching! We like Playing Lean, but other games can also do the trick, depending on the situation. We have compiled a list of some alternatives. No matter what you choose, remember to put the game experience into your context. Use examples from the game experience throughout your training program.
Exercises and case work
Take on two businesses that are known to your audience. Have students fill in a Business Model Canvas or a Lean Canvas for both companies. Compare and discuss. What do they do differently? Which company is most likely to succeed and why?
Exercises should be in groups to create lively debates.
Get out of the building!
Innovation is so easy to get started with these days. Why don’t you make your students start a new venture as part of their training? This effort might only last for a day or two, but make them do experiments on real customers and reward the ones that get the furthest.
There are many recipes for these kinds of events, from Startup Weekend to Lean Startup Machine. Take inspiration from these, then adapt. If you can pull this one off, participants will have a memory for life!
There you have it. You’re ready to set up an innovation training program that will give insight and inspire to action. Your pupils will be lucky to have you as their teacher.
In our next webinar (March 25th) we're going back to basics! Game co-creator Bruno will take us through the Lean Startup fundamentals, the original Lean Startup concepts that Eric Ries made his thoughts on over a decade ago. Reserve your spot!