New “3 Cs” Innovation Learning Workshop Program at the University of Wisconsin

I’ve been developing a lot of online workshops and webinars over the past few years but nothing is better for innovating than a LIVE group of people. Many organization know innovation systems and processes but they need to increase innovation soft skills. This new interactive and inventive program I’ve been developing is launching at the University of Wisconsin! I can also bring this experience to other organizations and institutions. Read more about it!

Developing Innovation through Collaboration, Creativity, & Communication

The Three C’s of Collaboration, Creativity, and Communication can help you to develop new innovations that can contribute to doing meaningful new things, improving processes for problem-solving, and having greater success in your work. You will meet new people and work with others to systematically generate and develop new ideas for the challenge of your choosing. Be guided step-by-step and activity-by-activity through an innovation process to develop and take action on new ideas for your real project. Learn the fundamental “best practice” activities for innovating and leave the workshop with more advanced innovation skills and a portfolio of new developed ideas.

By learning and using innovation tools and activities to create, collaborate, and communicate you will get important work done at this workshop away from the routine of your office. You will innovate how you work and create new innovations to take action on what is needed and wanted. New ideas that can make a difference in your work and life are motivating and engaging for you and your colleagues. Here are some key learning outcomes and actions we will take at the workshop:

Create:
+ Generate a wide range of relevant, new and different ideas based on your challenge or opportunity through creative thinking tools.
+ Analyze, synthesize, and develop the best ideas into a portfolio of concepts to act upon based on a best practice development system.

Collaborate:
+ Develop relationships quickly with fellow innovators to collaborate in groups with at the workshop and beyond.
+ Connect one-on-one with fellow innovators through guided activities designed to help you gain new insight and validation of your concepts.

Communicate:
+ Learn a simple and effective idea presentation format used by innovative organizations that will allow you to showcase your new concepts.
+ Practice communicating your best concepts in ways that are engaging and memorable using involvement, story, visuals, and metaphors.

This workshop is presented live at the University of Wisconsin-Madison! Visit the UW site for more details if you are near Madison. Otherwise, email me at darin (at) innovationlearning.org for more information.

How to Encourage Creative Thinking: Developing experiential training activities to teach the innovator’s DNA

Your Next Big Idea My favorite innovation articles are those that focus on which capacities we need to cultivate to become better innovators personally. Innovation processes and systems are excellent but learning how to develop our own innovation skills is truly compelling because it is personal. Plus, much of the innovation chatter in organizations now is shifting from adopting processes and systems to nurturing innovation soft skills in all employees so that a culture of innovation can be possible in an organization. I was asked to speak at an “Innovation from Within” conference the other day. I only had two days to plan what I was going to do. If in doubt, I like to create experiential activities that allow people to do innovation work for their real challenges…and to explain the lessons and activities using stories, metaphors, and analogies. Inspiration struck at the coffee shop this morning as I read the Innovator’s DNA article from the Harvard Business Review. One of the best articles I’ve read in a long time on developing innovation. Authors Jeffrey Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton Christensen gave us great theory to build practical training activities around. I’ll be launching my new activity to introduce the innovator skills of associating, questioning, observing, experimenting, & networking!

Email me at darin (at) innovationlearning.org to talk about developing innovation in your organization through experiential activities!

Experiment on achievement: Small daily goals or big ongoing goals?

What works better for achieving something important? A big goal over a long period of time or smaller daily goals? My vote is for smaller daily goals because they help you take consistent action…and you have daily achievements to savor instead of having to wait a long time to say you achieved your goal. I like yoga. I also like yoga challenges. I decided to do an experiment. For my first challenge I wanted to do 30 yoga sessions in 30 days. I achieved that goal. This first yoga challenge was so engaging that I undertook a second one four months later…this challenge was different. Instead of focusing on a month time period I would focus on a day. My goal was to do 2 yoga sessions “this day” and see what I would end up with. What I ended up with was doing 30 yoga sessions in 15 days. The focus on “just this day” yielded 15 achievement moments to celebrate and achieving more sessions than the last challenge…by far. Perhaps you can think about setting goals in new ways…what can be done this day?

From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 I wanted to do more than I did last time. I was trying to figure out what I should do…30 sessions in 20 days? 40 sessions in 30? More than 30 in less than 30 days again? With being gone traveling for 4 days and having visitors for a couple of weekends I was losing many days. So if I wanted to do more than I had in the first challenge I would have to double up. Because of this my thinking shifted. My goal this time would not be the overall time period or total number of sessions but to focus on each day…2 sessions in a day. My thought is that it will add up to exceed my goal. Instead of the big focus I am doing the small focus.

This daily challenge presents it’s own complications. Two times a day is a lot. It requires about 3 hours each day. Also, I had some lower back pain…not good for the start of a challenge. The thought that was entering my mind at the start of this next challenge was to either not do my daily yoga and biking to heal my back strain or to plow through and do the challenge. I decided to plow though. This time though I am more mindful of what I needed to do to improve my back. I used the yoga as treatment. I focus on the “laying down on your belly leg raising poses” like locust that are great for strengthening the lower back. I focus on the core. Those front and back muscle strengtheners help. I just don’t flop down into any bends or side angle poses like I do. Sometimes my own flexibility can be a challenge. I go slower and let the muscles engage to support.

It is also challenging because it is familiar now. When I started and did the first challenge the yoga studio, the people, and the poses were new. The new excitement factor has worn off. Everything is more comfortable and familiar. The external sources of motivation were not as high so I would have to find it more internally. This is why the “this day” approach to the goal achievement was needed.

The outcomes of the two-a-day challenge are mostly time and social related. It is nice to have about 3 hours of each day accounted for with something positive and social. It is nice to do things with people. It is nice to have a challenge in your life. These are very simple things but often forgotten.

Of the people that I mentioned the two-a-day challenge too, few thought that two-a-day yoga is that helpful. They don’t think yoga should be utilized like a physical challenge. I don’t know either. Your body is never really ready to do it’s best work. You are always conserving energy. You never hit any of the poses in a yoga journal cover moment that make you feel great. You don’t look as good. Maybe the lesson is marathon style…to be OK at 80% though I am a 100% making moments memories type of guy.

I think this yoga challenge made me more effective at work. I have to be effective because I only have a certain amount of time to work with all of this yoga happening! Plus I think the yoga chills me out. Less thinking and more just doing well.

What big goal would you like to achieve? Is it some sort of challenge related to your health perhaps? What goal can you shift to a “just this day” action focus? What can you do today?

The Innovation & Collaboration Learning Cafe from UW MANIAC

The University of Wisconsin has a very interesting group that is advancing innovation learning on campus and in the Madison community. I first got involved as a speaker at one of the Innovation & Collaboration Learning Cafes and became hooked every since. The people are amazing, the activities engaging, and the learning is enriching. More Colleges and Universities could start some innovation learning initiatives with a MANIAC-like model. Here is a description: UW-MANIAC (Madison Area Network for Innovation and Collaboration) is a dynamic partnership of University and business community people who are creatively exploring the possibilities of a network focused on sparking creative, innovative practices in our workplace. The “Innovation & Collaboration Learning Cafe Series” seeks to sustain learning about creative thinking and integrate it into the way we teach, research, and work together.

I’m doing a Ted Talk type speech to kick off the workshop that takes us into the world of “Technology & Community,” so we can tap creative ideas that have been transformed into successful innovations in the workplace, classroom and community.
The Café series seeks to sustain learning about creative thinking and integrate it into the way we teach, research and work together. Some of the main topics will be:

-Social Networking media, web-based analytics, and interactive mapping tools
-Innovative virtual facilitation tools and strategies for a variety of work environments
-Implications for communities of practice and other sustained learning organizations
-Synthesis and application – how do we take our learning “back home” where it needs to be applied?

MANIAC may have a funny name, and we have an enjoyable time, but the work in which we are engaged is seriously developing an increased capacity for creative, capable responses to complex challenges we face at the University, the community, and the larger society.

Teach Creativity, Not Memorization & The Creative Campus

The Chronicle of Higher Education has done what many other publications have been doing. They are publishing articles that are shining the light on the need to teach creativity and innovation to students in our educational system. This October 2010 issue featured two articles raising attention to our need for creativity to teach creativity and foster more creative college campuses.

Check out Teach Creativity, Not Memorization from Robert J. Sternberg and The Creative Campus: Time for a ‘C’ Change by Elizabeth Long Lingo and Steven J. Tepper. I am hoping that more funding will become available to create new initiatives, programs and centers on a wide variety of campuses. This is the exact interdisciplinary movement I want to help catalyze. Creativity has always been on the radar. I feel we need to take it one step further and use the language of “innovation” as well as “creativity.” We need not only creative people and ideas but our changing times require us to take action on implementing these ideas…and to develop them more rigorously. This is innovation.

Innovating Healthcare: Motivating Speech from Patch Adams can inspire Medical Innovation

My friend returned from a healthcare conference really motivated from the keynote speaker, Patch Adams. You may remember the Robin Williams movie of the same name. Patch has been innovating healthcare for years in simple ways and his story is inspiring and can bring about new ideas for some our current healthcare problems. Problems equal opportunities for innovation and new ideas. Sometimes innovation does not require new technology but simplicity.

Innovation and Improvement of the Office by leaving it: Co-working at “Studio”

Work where the action is. Innovate and improve your workplace by leaving it one day a week.

What if you had a second office? What if it was in a cool place surrounded by lots of cool people who weren’t your co-workers but were working on similar and interesting things? My friend Rishi Shah brought me to something called Jelly in Chicago and San Francisco. It was co-working. People met one day of the week at a great coffee shop with their laptops to work on what it was they were working on, share ideas, have fun, and develop community. For some they escaped the isolation of the home office or sitting alone at a coffee shop. Others escaped the cubicle and co-workers they see 40 hours a week at their usual office.

I thought co-working was a brilliant concept. We’ve been doing it through the MANIAC initiative at the University of Wisconsin since July through something we developed called “studio.” We keep it simple and meet in the student union every week. People stop by when they like…there is little structure. This week we were especially creative together and we snapped a photo. Ten minutes later as I was uploading the photo to blog about how great co-working is in a happening place, US Senator Russ Feingold stopped by. This doesn’t happen in the home office or the cubicle. Work where the action is and the people are.

Working in innovative ways can make a difference and just be more fun. Co-working reduces isolation and helps you develop a new network of creative collaborators.

A+ TED Talks Video: Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From

This Ted Talk from Steven Johnson is one of the best. He is right on the money with educating people where the great ideas actually do come from…not eureka moments but rather collaborative ongoing processes. He also is expert at communicating his ideas with stories, metaphors, and visuals.

Developing Innovation through Collaboration, Creativity, & Communication Workshop Program

The Three C’s of Collaboration, Creativity, and Communication can help you to develop new innovations that can contribute to doing meaningful new things, improving processes for problem-solving, and having greater success in your work. You will meet new people and work with others to systematically generate and develop new ideas for the challenge of your choosing. Be guided step-by-step and activity-by-activity through an innovation process to develop and take action on new ideas for your real project. Learn the fundamental “best practice” activities for innovating and leave the workshop with more advanced innovation skills and a portfolio of new developed ideas.

By learning and using innovation tools and activities to create, collaborate, and communicate you will get important work done at this workshop away from the routine of your office. You will innovate how you work and create new innovations to take action on what is needed and wanted. New ideas that can make a difference in your work and life are motivating and engaging for you and your colleagues. Here are some key learning outcomes and actions we will take at the workshop:

Create:
+ Generate a wide range of relevant, new and different ideas based on your challenge or opportunity through creative thinking tools.
+ Analyze, synthesize, and develop the best ideas into a portfolio of concepts to act upon based on a best practice development system.

Collaborate:
+ Develop relationships quickly with fellow innovators to collaborate in groups with at the workshop and beyond.
+ Connect one-on-one with fellow innovators through guided activities designed to help you gain new insight and validation of your concepts.

Communicate:
+ Learn a simple and effective idea presentation format used by innovative organizations that will allow you to showcase your new concepts.
+ Practice communicating your best concepts in ways that are engaging and memorable using involvement, story, visuals, and metaphors.


Program Innovation is a topic area where the workshops help people to innovate by doing it. Workshops are designed to facilitate groups and institutions through the idea development process by systematically tackling a challenge relevant to you. This is a relevant topic area for organizations and groups within institutions. It is designed to help people improve how they work and have a high-impact.

Click here to see all programs in the Program Innovation topic area.

The Jam Session: Innovating Networking to be more Facilitated

Have you ever been to a bad networking session? Maybe it was a free-for-all at the beginning of a conference. Maybe it was a disguised as a happy hour at a bar. Maybe you didn’t get the chance to talk to anyone, or worse yet got stuck talking to someone for way too long. Maybe you just talked about the weather and didn’t get to talk about your idea or what you needed or provide any insight or assistance to anyone. It was just like hanging out awkwardly at a bar. There are a lot of opportunities for improvement and innovation with networking.

I’ve been working with the University of Wisconsin Office of Human Resource Development on innovating the networking session. It is like a facilitated workshop. It is part thinking about important questions, working on your “how you quickly communicate elevator speech,” part group introduction, and part one-on-one or one-on-two speed networking. In this jam session people leave with a more comfortable and activity filled experience. They get to share with the whole group, hear from everyone, and go deeper one on one with many new people. They actually get to connect and converse! We can bring the Innovative Networking Session to your event or group or jam with us at UW!