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How To Make Innovation Practice Stick? Get a Coach.

Red coaches whistle against green wall

Most of my career has been working in the innovation and creativity area. I love this field and I am obviously very comfortable here but came to the realization that while people get very excited about training programs and tools for creativity and innovation, it is often challenging to maintain those skills and tools when they are back into their regular routines. While they want to create more innovation in their organization and develop their own creativity, obstacles such as time to practice, ingrained behaviors, cultural habits, resistance to change, “weirdness” of doing things differently, and lack of support from management and peers all limit the difference innovation can make.

A few years ago, I recognized that to create training programs that stick, I could not simply offer a two- or three-day training and hope they would make a critical difference when back in the office in the “real world”. So I started to build programs that would continuously reinforce learning and accompany the trainees over time and in context. To give learners a chance to apply in a real context, I now create custom programs that may last six to twelve months, alternating in-person training and virtual or in-person coaching. This program example was created for a software organization that wanted to train a large team of employees, as well as more in-depth training for their management team.

While Executive coaching has been used for many years, Fire Up Innovation Consulting focuses instead on the needs of the team, the innovation process and their challenges. Because innovation is teamwork and ultimately about changing the culture, coaching teams (whether they work together or on different projects) is transformative. Additionally, we coach via video conferences, making it efficient and allowing teams in different locations to start seeing commonalities in implementing new innovation practices throughout an organization.

Stages of coaching
Source Foursight

One of our strengths is to be able to see and apply trends. I was one of the first to promote design thinking in connection with creative training and the Foursight instrument, and coaching for innovation teams. My belief in the value of coaching was reinforced last year when I had the honor of hearing Atul Gawande, a well-known surgeon and change leader, at a TED Conference. His advice was that “to get great at something, get a coach”. Just like the athletes, musicians and executives who understand the need for coaching in order to be great at what they do, teams can also learn to “be great” at innovating with additional coaching.

Learn how an innovation coach can work with you or your team, set up a free consultation today!


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