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Which of these two paragraphs better describes the journey of a new idea at your organization?

Periodically, a new product or a new way of doing business emerges that totally helps our business keep up with the competition. The idea for that new offering or process comes from a surprising individual who fought through miles of red tape and taught themselves how to develop a business case, made their pitch to the right people, and heroically fought to make it happen. Now that this new great idea is implemented, that person is back to doing their regular job and everyone else is excited to find out when the next great idea might emerge.


Everyone in the company regularly hears about new ideas and their authors: small ideas, opportunities in adjacent spaces, and even some disruptive ideas. Whenever we hear about these opportunities we are also invited to learn about new trends and innovation best practices ourselves, because innovation is a shared expectation and we all feel invested in the future of our organization. We all know the basics of what makes a good idea, the process to get it implemented, and we know that our leaders are listening for the next great idea, because they regularly report on innovation in company meetings. 

If the first description is a better description of you and your experience of innovation, then you are not alone (in fact, according to IdeaScale’s innovation maturity assessments, at least 33% of organizations fall into this category). What we’ve found is that one of the best ways to transform innovation capability and create a shared culture of innovation is to train team members so that they have a shared language and understanding of innovation and see how it fits into the overall value set for the organization. But, there are a few different horizons for creating that change – and creating culture starts by addressing all three. Here is a summary of the training for each layer.

Innovation Training For Leaders

Top executives play a key role in driving innovation. They are in charge of creating the strategic mandates that will drive thinking across the organization – they also have the organization-wide visibility to help identify and solve key systemic problems. Leaders are also the key to removing obstacles by assigning resources to problems when a solution is identified. Finally, they are a communications guidepost from which other team members take their cues, so it is important that they know how to talk about innovation and encourage others to do the same. For all these reasons and more, it important that leaders gain at least a conversant understanding of innovation best practices, how to guide strategy, and how to measure and communicate about innovation.

Innovation Training for Innovation Teams

Innovation teams are the beating heart of creative change at an organization. They are the in-house experts and stewards of new ideas. For that reason, they need to be experts themselves – not just in innovation best practices, but in the unique needs of their organization. They should regularly conduct assessments to source opportunities for improvement, identify new leaders to help evangelize innovation, and gain proficiency in innovation best practices so that they might train others. An organization’s overall innovation sophistication will flow from here.

Innovation Training for Employees

Finally, in a world where everyone at your organization comes to work each day believing their ideas can shape the destiny of the enterprise, every employee needs to have an understanding of how to create and communicate a good idea. These may seem like soft skills, but they are the difference between an important idea coming to fruition and a best-intentions-sketch that never sees the light of the day. These skills are also the kind of professional development that will continue to serve employees throughout their careers: how to construct a business case, how to pitch an idea, and so on – investing in this training will create a virtuous cycle of better ideas and employee goodwill.

An innovation culture depends on all three horizons, but every organization needs to understand where they have the most opportunity to grow and start there.

To learn more about the strategic services that would work best for your organization, review the full suite of offerings here. 

About the Author

Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.



Featured image via Unsplash.