Innovation Training Principle 2: Educate & Enable

Today I'm going to continue to dig deeper into the 3 Simple Principles for Thinking about Innovation Training.  

Last week we talked about how you should start with the willing. This week lets dig into Principle 2: Educate & Enable. After you identify the willing you want to educate them & give them the opportunity to implement their new skills. I recommend that you only train folks when you can give them a clear, and strategically aligned, are to innovate within. For example, " We need ideas for how to 10X the number of face-to-face conversations we have with potential customer," or "We need ideas for new streams of revenue to fund our wildlife research." If possible, before they complete your training program, they will have a specific objective to work on.

enabling innnovation

You want to consider the amount of training needed for different employees to achieve your objective. Think about it this way -- there are 3 functional levels of innovation training: Process Experts, Informed Management, and Innovation Contributors.

  1. Process Experts: This level of education should enable folks to facilitate culture change by architecting your innovation infrastructure, leading and coaching project teams, and educating other employees. Sometimes, executives whose style is to "lead from the front" will attain this level of education. 
  2. Informed Management: Leaders across the organization need to understand what innovation means to your organization, why it's important to your organization, and how it is executed at your organization. Though they do not need to achieve mastery of every skill when it comes to executing innovation projects, it's important that they understand the principles because they will be making the go, no go decisions related to allocating resources for those projects.
  3. Innovation Contributors: This basic training is for employees at any level in the organization, and should give them the fundamental skills needed to be members or leader of innovation projects. Often Process Experts can train contributors.

When I originally answered the question about innovation training it had been asked by someone at a large corporation.  If you are inside a company of that size I recommend that your first wave of trainees include at least 2 Process Experts, at least 1 Informed Manager, and at least a dozen Innovation Contributors.  This mix will give you coverage from those that are working on designing the solution, those that are focused on the innovation process, and at least on senior person who can keep the whole thing aligned with the organization's strategic intentions.