When Thinkergy started fourteen years ago, we had one training course named “Business Creativity and Innovation”. Over the years, as we’ve evolved into a full-fledged innovation company, our innovation know-how and scope of offerings have expanded. In the process, we have developed a greater variety of innovation training courses that go more in-depth concerning a specific aspect of innovation.
Unfortunately, greater variety also means greater choice, which makes it more difficult for prospective clients to select the most suitable innovation training for their people if they browse our website. So today, allow me to share with you what factors we consider while developing a new survey-tool for our website that we hope helps prospective clients find —and settle on— a training course that fits their innovation training needs and constraints.
Parameters to consider when planning an innovation training
Say you’re a Learning & Development Manager in Human Resources or lead a business unit. You strongly believe in the value of continued education, and in the era of the innovation economy, you want to provide more creativity- and innovation-related training programs to your employees. But how to get started in finding suitable training courses.
Of course, you need to identify suitable vendors from whom to source the training. How? Check the track record of possible innovation training providers. Separate the wheat from the chaff by rating potential training providers on both the methodological underpinning of their courses and their real-life innovation experience. Ask: What innovation methods do they use in training? How many years have they been running creativity and innovation training courses? Do they only talk the talk or also walk their innovation talk themselves?
More importantly, however, you need to answer a few questions that help you clarify your wants and needs concerning a couple of critical training parameters: number and background of the delegates; innovation focus area; training duration; and budget. Below, let’s discuss each of these parameters (and the related questions to answer) in greater detail:
(1) Overall number of training delegates:
How many people overall do you want to provide with a particular innovation training? Into how many training cohorts would you like to split this total number of delegates?
Here, note that if you put too many learners into one cohort, then the quality of learning tends to suffer. Why? Big training cohorts are more challenging to control, especially if you do a lot of practical exercises. To ensure proper learning and avoid the free-rider phenomenon that is common in large cohorts, be prepared to commit more time for the training, to pay extra for more trainers or co-facilitators, or to reduce the number of practical exercises and case applications.
The optimal class size for most innovation training courses is 24 delegates, but for specific training programs, we recommend smaller cohorts of 16 and larger groups of 30 delegates.
(2) Background of training delegates:
To what organizational function or business unit, as well as what hierarchical level, do the delegates mostly belong?
For example, do you want to train more operational people working on a factory floor in creativity and innovation? Do you want to organize a training only for senior executives, or for up-and-coming young management talents? Do you intend to mix different hierarchy levels (e.g., staff and middle managers)? Your answers to these questions tend to inform how much time and budget you can commit for the respective training.
(3) Topic focus area of the innovation training:
On what major innovation challenge or challenges do you want the training to focus?
Within the domains of creativity and innovation, most companies face challenges in four areas:
- Creative process: How to use an effective innovation process and related thinking tools in an innovation project as a member of an innovation team.
- Creative people: How to find the agile, creative types that drive (digital) innovation initiatives? How to make everyone contribute to corporate innovation in harmony with their cognitive styles?
- Creative culture: How to develop a more innovation-friendly culture in our corporation? What factors impair or enable organizational creativity?
- Creative leaders: How to identify and develop more authentic creative leaders to drive innovation teams and lead business units in times of the innovation economy?
At Thinkergy, we have developed specific innovation methods to address these challenges: X-IDEA as a systematic yet fun-to-use creative process; TIPS to find creative people; CooL-Creativity UnLimited to build a creative culture; and Genius Journey for developing creative leaders. We offer a range of training courses for each of these key innovation topic areas based on our proprietary innovation methods.
In addition, we’ve also developed a “land of the lair”-innovation training for busy executives who want to learn about the vital innovation frames to master to produce innovation results. Moreover, we play a creative entrepreneurial game (“in the Year 2100”) with delegates to make them experience how to succeed in a highly dynamic market environment. We also offer a range of innovation keynote talks. Finally, we have designed a range of Business Thinking Skills training courses to equip staff and lower management with critical functional skills (Creative Thinking, Analytical Thinking, Visual Thinking, Entrepreneurial Thinking, and Decision Making).
(4) Training duration:
How much time are you (and the delegates you target) able and willing to dedicate to an innovation training?
Based on our experience, typical time commitments range from short time intervals (1-2 hours, half a day) over medium-term (1-day or 2-days) to more long-term commitments (3 days or more). Know that the more time you make available, the more chances to give your innovation trainer to apply the contents in practical exercises or —even better— on simulated realistic innovation cases.
Interestingly, within Asia, there are noticeable differences with regards to how much time training can last. While in Hong Kong, you can count yourself lucky if a company is willing to commit a full day for the training (as “everyone is so busy making money”), companies in Thailand or Indonesia typically book 2-day or even 3-day training courses.
(5) Training budget:
What budget do you have available for training your delegates in creativity and innovation?
Your budget needs to relate to the overall number of delegates you want to train in innovation in a given period. Moreover, the higher your budget, the more training days overall can you buy, thus allowing you to book longer training courses with more practical exercises and real-life case scenarios. Finally, please bear in mind that high-quality innovation training courses typically charge a premium, which compensates the training providers for the higher cost related to licensing or developing premium contents.
Apart from the aforementioned, other factors you may want to consider are the context of the training (e.g., standalone training; training course as part of a more comprehensive training program with other classes; training as part of a corporate offsite or a conference), the desired format of the training (e.g., keynote, lecture, workshop, learning game, case application, excursion) as well as the composition of the training cohort which takes account of the cultural and country background of the delegates.
Introducing a new web-tool to help you find your ideal innovation training
Back to the beginning: While we started with one training course in “Business Creativity” in 2005, Thinkergy currently offers 25 innovation training courses that differ in their topic focus and duration. When a prospective client is interested in learning more about our training courses, we typically meet with them to ask them a series of questions to help us recommend one or a few training courses that cater to the identified training needs.
We noticed that in the last couple of years, it takes longer to find a time slot for a prospective client meeting as businesspeople and managers face evermore demands on their time and are busier and busier. Hence, we’ve been looking for a way to help a prospective client find a training program aligned to their innovation needs while they browse our website in a quiet minute. How?
- On the training solutions page of our Thinkergy website, we have added a short survey tool that asks you similar questions that we would ask you in a face-to-face meeting.
- Once you’ve answered all of the questions, we recommend you one training course that ideally fits the parameters that you specify. Save or print the description of the suggested training,
- If you like, play the survey again by changing one or more answer options to see what alternative training course we’d recommend you now.
- Finally, contact us to find out more about your preferred training course. Typically, we then call you or meet with you so that you can tell us more about your interests as well as other specific parameters. Then, we’ll compose a tailor-made training proposal for you that uniquely meets your training needs and constraints.
Please also find this new survey tool below. Give it a shot if you have a minute to spare. Chose an answer option for each question, and let us surprise you with the best-fitting training course we propose doing with you. Here, kindly note that the present solution is still a prototype, so write to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us “what’s wrong with our tool”, or what else you’d like to see.
Conclusion: Master the paradox of choice with personal and technological support
Many companies feel compelled to offer a variety of products to their clients to cater to specific wants, needs, and desires; on the other hand, more choice makes it more difficult for customers to settle for one offering, and may even make them walk away and look somewhere else for another offer. The American psychologist Barry Schwartz discusses this dilemma in his book The Paradox of Choice — Why More is Less.
How to best resolve this dilemma? Schwartz argues that eliminating consumer choices can significantly reduce anxiety for buyers, so offering fewer products and variations is one possible resolution. For example, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he decided to cut down the number of computers that Apple offers from roughly three dozen to just four.
An alternative way is to use either personal advice and technology as an aid to guide customers to the best choice for a specific need. And in the coming years, it’s likely that new AI-supported digital sales tools will make finding the ideal choice easier and more precise, customer-immersive and fun.
Have you already played with our new survey tool? If so, did you find an enticing course within our range of innovation training courses? Then, contact us to so that we can jointly explore how we may best edutain you with our experiential Thinkergy innovation training courses.
© Dr. Detlef Reis 2019