Innovation is one of the most used terms in business world today, but exactly what it defines can be hazy. The word innovation and invention are used interchangeably. Invention is a discovery whereas innovation, in business terms, is a process of translating an idea into tangible or intangible goods or services that creates monetary value for the organization.
Take the example of Apple products, it is aesthetically innovative in terms of materials, design and, at times, colors. They are innovative with features like voice recognition, syncing different devices etc. They are innovative in terms of customer-centricity by having no-wait checkout through sales associate enabled iPhones, the Genius Bar to help solve customer complaints on spot etc. Innovation can be simply revamping a product that has been used in one part of the world. An epitome for this should be Argan oil. Argan oil has been used in North Africa since ages and now, in the last 5-10 years it has become a popular ingredient in many hair and cosmetic products, to protect and nourish hair, nails and skin.
The best innovation workshop is like an orchestra and the facilitator is the orchestra conductors. There are two ways to approach it – 1) Act like you are doing a traditional piece of music for meetings where discipline and alignment is import or 2) Act like you are doing a modern piece of music where innovation and creativity takes the first seat.
In both the approaches one must prepare a PDP i.e., Pre – During – Post of this innovation workshop. While doing some pre-work to the workshop, it is important to have “one-person in charge”. This person can be a program manager who is focused on process. This person can be a facilitator but isn’t a necessity. Though we have one person in charge, it is also important to have a single objective which is known and agreed by all the participants of this workshop. These objectives are generally verbs like contribute or decide or learn etc. Speaking of participants in the workshop, it is also important to have diverse set of people who are needed. They can vary from 5 to 7 in number, any number below 5 means your diverse perspective has gone for a toss. If each participant agrees on everything then there is no need for a meeting – the meeting should happen only when there is an opportunity to get varied perspective. It is also recommended to give some pre-read to the participants so that they have the context and varied thoughts can be presented.
During the workshop, it is important to create a jar/structure for the participant to add the content into it in order to optimize learning, contributions, and action-oriented decisions and achieving the overall objective. While it is important to have a tight rein or provoke thoughts, the facilitator must also pull the various themes and perspective to achieve the object.
Under post workshop phase, it is important to get minutes of the meeting and action plans in place for participants to kick-off the implementation of decisions and may be have next discussion points for the next meeting.