Innovation white paper final

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  • Learning Innovation By Caroline Avey

  • 1 McKeown, Max (2008). The Truth About Innovation. London, UK: Prentice Hall. ISBN 0273719122. 2 Dr. Kamal Birdi, The Institute of Work Psychology, The University of Sheffield, 2010

    What is Innovation in a Business Context Innovation is a change in the thought process for doing something1

    The focus for innovation can vary among corporations depending upon the entitys business strategy. From this perspective, innovation succeeds from strategic initiatives that engage the individual to the organization's benefit. Innovation depends on motivated individuals, within a supportive culture, and who are kept informed on the organization future, often with collaboration on ideas as a core value.


    According to the Innovations Index Group and Business Week, Apple is the 2010 top innovator for the fourth year in a row. While the index measures several metrics for innovation, Apple wins the top honor primarily for bringing new products to market. Google holds the number two spot, yet they are known for an entirely different metric such as innovatively handling customer service. Toyota is ranked third for innovation and they are recognized for innovation in processes. Some companies, such as HP, are recognized for a blend of innovation metrics. Each organization should have a clear understanding for the desired business outcomes when pursuing innovation. How Can Training Support Innovation Initiatives for an Organization? Training should be considered part of the overall change management plan for implementation of a strategic initiative for innovation. This change management plan includes the success measures mentioned above to support success and mitigate the failures mentioned above for innovative programs. Training can support each of these elements, for example awareness-level training for executive sponsorship to foster a culture supportive of innovation. If the culture does not excel in collaboration, brainstorming, and/or creativity, then application-level training can provide the organization members with the skills, knowledge and most importantly the attitude to innovate. If there are formal tools in place for capturing ideas then again application-level learning will empower employees to brainstorm, contribute and actively innovate. In reference to training, Dr. Kamal Birdi states, Organizations are faced with many choices regarding how to improve the creativity of their employees. For example, they may use selection tests to recruit more innovative employees, introduce reward systems for encouraging new ideas or invest more heavily in Research and Development Departments. However, one potentially valuable strategy is to use specific learning activities to directly develop the innovation knowledge and skills of individuals or teams. 2

    How To Develop an Innovations Learning Strategy At ACS, our learning strategists work with our clients to define learning strategies for a variety of topics such as corporate governance, measurement/assessment, and learning delivery. The same strategic approach is applied to developing a strategy for innovation initiatives. The strategic process involves the three phases of Analyze, Align and Implementation Planning (depicted in the following graphic). During the Analyze phase, we work with organizations to finalize a definition of the learning need. This Analyze phase may include reviewing previous documentation, talking with stakeholder groups regarding the initiative, and conducting assessment to document the current and desired state. For innovation, the Analyze phase helps to determine the current state and desired state for an innovation culture within the organization. The current state and desired state needs assessment is reviewed with client stakeholders for affirmation and confirmation. During the Align phase, our strategists work with organizations to develop solution architecture. We explore potential solutions and assess them against the known requirements from the Analyze phase. Solutions are recommended and reviewed with client stakeholders for affirmation and confirmation. In the example of an innovations initiative, we would explore various solutions to implementing a culture of innovation at the client organization that more than likely will include executive sponsorship, training of innovation leaders, training for employees, use of idea generating tools, and innovative ways to engage the organization through social networking tools acceptable to the organization. At this phase, and overall curriculum design is prepared for all affected roles.

    Developing an Innovation Learning Strategy can be tailored to the individual business and their needs.

    Learning Innovation is a quickly becoming a top priority for many businesses. There are many new ways to make learning accessible from virtually anywhere.

  • During the Plan phase, we take the solution outcome from the Align phase and consider all elements for a successful implementation. This could be investment analysis, testing of software or acquired off-the-shelf courseware, consideration of incentives, metrics, and establishing details to ensure that the innovations initiative is successful. Then end result is an implementation plan, on which ACS then provides execution support. Additionally, the process considers what ACS refers to as the Human Capital Framework (illustrated below). This framework includes five points of consideration for strategic learning initiatives. The five components of the framework are People, Process, Content, Technology and Measurement. In the case of an innovation initiative, we suggest looking at each factor and how it relates to the initiative. With innovation, for example, one aspect of People might be how managers will react to their team members taking time to suggest innovative solutions. How will these same managers encourage and foster innovative thinking during team meetings and/or on projects? We design questions around the five components of the Human Capital Framework to pursue and resolve for each of the three phases of the strategic process.

    ACS Human Capital Strategic Framework

    Employee Manager Leadership HR Business Units

    Measurement Establish

    measurement criteria Implement tracking/

    reporting Learning access Learning management Reporting and tracking Integration Links to HRIS

    Technology Prioritization of content

    needs technical, soft skills Evaluate current inventory Identify gaps Identification of content sources

    Design Build vs. buy

    Implementation Maintenance


    People Process Competency Management Career Development Performance Management Knowledge Management Succession Planning Employee Engagement

  • Examples of Innovative Learning Solutions Augmented Reality Think about situation in learning - such as onboarding, or supporting service technicians or sales reps. Mobile Tagging provides a unique learning experience. Go to Download the app on your smart phone, based on your device. When you have the app loaded, open the app. The app becomes a camera to take a photo of the following image. Select to open the content: 3D Virtual Worlds Download this file to see how weve used virtual worlds to develop soft skills such as time management and handling interruptions:

    iPad Demonstration iPads provide a unique opportunity for learning organizations. iPads allow multi-users on a single device. They can readily provide learning where computers or point of sale devices can not. If you have an iPad, click on the link to learn more. This link will work on your mobile phone and/or desktop as well, but it is designed for the iPad.

    For more information about Learning Trends or ACS Learning Services, please visit or call 866-290-0006.

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    By Caroline AveyWhat is Innovation in a Business Context