How Do We Innovate Training?

The best way to innovate is through partnerships. Look outside the walls of your organization for strategic partners that can make it happen for you.

We are barraged with a constant stream of new ideas for design and delivery of solutions that can improve learning, engagement, and performance. Finding methods to rapidly evaluate innovation, while maximizing the benefits and minimizing the risks, can mean the difference between success and failure. Our multi-year collaboration with Andrea Procaccino provides several examples of how to strategically innovate your training through the intentional integration of emerging technologies.

Andrea is among a group of forward-thinking Learning leaders who have built their careers by driving training innovation. She has risen through the ranks at Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Avon, and now as chief learning officer of NewYork-Presbyterian (NYP) by bringing innovative, results-driven solutions to her organization’s challenges.


Our paths crossed at a conference where Andrea, then at J&J, won an award for implementing 3-D World technology for training and drug discovery. This led to a conversation where we discovered a partnership between our organizations could be beneficial and lead to innovation.

“I’ve seen firsthand how a partnership with University of Central Florida’s (UCF) Institute for Simulation & Training (1ST) has worked, and I’m very passionate about such partnerships,” Andrea says. “David once told me that in order to innovate, you have to have courage, be willing to fail, and learn through failure. Look outside the walls of your organization for strategic partners that can make innovation happen for you. A partnership with a university-based research lab is how we were able to drive innovation and have sponsorship within our organization.”

Minimizing Risks

Many have difficulty scaling innovations and keeping momentum as they go into larger organizations while maintaining an appropriate level of risk. In contrast, Andrea has done a great job of that throughout her career.

At Avon, “we had been trying to get the concept of a mobile game off the ground, but there were reservations,” she notes. “While I was socializing and getting people comfortable with the idea, an opportunity arose on the marketing end. Someone suggested the game idea for marketing the Bug Guard product. We were able to partner with David’s team at UCF to do this fun game. I was able to use that to reinvigorate people and build excitement around a teaching game called AvonFever. We were able to get things off the ground quicker because this low-risk, fun game got people to understand what I was talking about.”

Building Innovative Teams

Innovation within an organization also is driven by teams. “It has always been my goal to build highly functioning and innovative teams by giving space and support to try new things,” Andrea says. This is exactly what she has done at NYP. “I always tell my team, quoting Herb Brooks, ‘The name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back.’ Build a sense of community in a safe, creative environment; help them feel like they’re part of something bigger; and reward behaviors—the outcome is brilliant.”

Through innovative partnerships and best practices, successful solutions and careers are built. The Institute for Simulation & Training will host Training’s new Innovations in Training 2016 in Orlando, FL, December 1 and 2. Visit:

David Metcalf, Ph.D., has more than 20 years of experience in the design and research of Web-based and mobile technologies converging to enable learning and health care. He is the founding director of the Mixed Emerging Technology Integration Lab ( at the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation & Training.