Since the object of all that innovation training is to make workers more creative on a daily basis, you may want to keep certain pointers in mind when constructing your next program, says Will Thalheimer, president of research-based instructional design provider Work-Learning Research in Somerville, Mass.
Avoid vague directives. Studies show that people remember the specific much more than the general, so tailoring innovation training to exercises that pertain to the particular work the employee is approaching will have a greater chance of being put to use. “Some innovation training just pushes process, ‘Do these things,’ or ‘Do this and you’ll be more creative in general,’ but people tend to only recall things that are specifically cued when they get back to their environment.” In the case of an e-learning team that you want to create more innovative designs, for instance, what would be better than giving them generic creativity training would be actually exposing them to examples of cutting-edge work in their field that might inspire them to come up with their own version of the avant-garde. “By making these contextualize into their real world,” he says, “they’re more likely to recall these things when they go back to the job.”
Give them job aids to take back to their desks. After giving employees marching orders to be creative, you may want to arm them with aids such as posters they can tack up in their office or cubicle listing the points you covered during training. If, for example, you covered a five-step process to triggering innovation, a chart featuring those points might make a good daily prompt for novel thinking.
Assign them homework. If you want to make sure workers are thinking about innovation as applied to their jobs, give them an on-the-job task to complete in between creativity training sessions. If, for instance, a class is planned in a week or two, don’t just tell participants to mark it on their calendars. Tell them to come with five innovative ideas, or concepts they found through research, that they might like to share with colleagues.
Keep in mind how innovation is generated. With so much of creativity sparked by a collaborative give-and-take among a whole department or group, rather than simply on an individual basis, consider rewarding or recognizing joint efforts. “You’ve got to be careful if you reward individuals,” he says, “because oftentimes innovation comes through teamwork.”