Pilot Innovation Program Workshops

This is a starting point for workshop ideas that Darin can build upon to design and facilitate for your larger innovation program. You can learn more about Darin and our company at InnovationLearning.org. The suggested workshops below can be targeted to or customized for specific groups (managers/key stakeholders, innovation drivers, & subject matter experts) that show people how to use lean startup inspired and design thinking methods for innovation. Participants learn tools and techniques to innovate with the customer each step of that way. They learn to facilitate idea generation and development, customer validation, and lead the innovation process in groups for a culture of innovation. They learn by doing…for real. All of the workshops are hands on and interactive. Participants work on a real challenge and a common group challenge to rapidly design & launch an innovation program for a culture of innovation.


1. How to Create & Develop Validated Ideas for New Products, Strategies, & Marketing WITH your current & potential CUSTOMERS

Get some lean, design thinking how-to’s for coming up with new ideas and developing better concepts using customer co-creation tools.

  • Techniques for using the voice of the customer in ideation for new products, services, strategies, or marketing.

  • Innovative & systematic approaches to creativity, idea development & validation…in person and online.

  • How to build off of consumer insights and focus groups to offer better brainstorming and innovation sessions within your organization.

  • Relevant for innovation drivers and subject matter experts who focus on a process to generate and validate ideas with customers.

2. Designing & Facilitating Innovation with Groups
Tools, Techniques, & Activities for High-Impact Innovation Sessions with Customers & Colleagues

Collaboration Innovation Workshop

Would you like to design more interactive and engaging activities, meetings, workshops and group sessions that generate ideas and innovation? In this practical & hands-on workshop you will will experience high-impact creative activities that work for a variety of group sizes at different steps of the innovation process. You will learn how to use trusted techniques and new tools to more confidently, actively, and successfully facilitate others in creating ideas & communicating innovations to act on. At the end of our experience you will get to design your own mini innovation session using the tools and activities…and facilitate it to generate ideas for a challenge you want to focus on.

Workshop Objectives & Activities

  • Use design thinking to design for engagement leveraging group dynamics: Individuals, pairs, triads, & huddles
  • See tools that get ideas from larger levels: the Organization, crowd, public, experts, big data, & the web
  • Gain a toolkit of tools & techniques to use immediately on your own and with groups
  • Experience simple activities you can facilitate too: BrainRain, Bounce, Polls, Think-Pair-Share, CardSourcing, etc.
  • Design your own innovation session to facilitate that day for your challenge & participate in others’ creations
  • Relevant for managers and innovation drivers who lead groups and hold meetings

3. Collaborate, Communicate, & Create: The 3Cs of an Innovation Culture 

In this speed networking inspired event, you will be facilitated through quick, one-on-one conversations that could lead to new solutions, knowledge, resources, and collaborations. Share a new innovation you are fostering or a challenge you are working on, and get insight from fellow participants. This is an innovative, interactive approach to networking and co-creation, designed to focus conversations and catalyze relationships. Experience how this activity is done so you can lead it yourself in your own group!

Year of Innovation Collage
Workshop Objectives & Activities

  • Collaboration, connection making and culture building in action.
  • Rapid iterations to communicate your challenge, get insight, and refine.
  • Learn the key skills of breakthrough innovators: Network, Observe, Experiment, Associate, Question.
  • Connect with at least 5 other colleagues 1:1 for about 5 minutes per pair.
  • Focus on a challenge you want innovation for in your own work ranging from recruitment, management, helping a specific client, new product ideas, problem solutions, applications of a technology, etc.
  • Around the circle debrief/reflection of insights gained with possible takeaway whiteboarding on big sheets of paper.
  • Relevant for managers and innovation drivers who are seeking to change mindsets and affect the culture.

This is a good event for a larger group too that lives and breathes a culture of collaboration and innovation in action and gets participants working on their own challenge (or common organization challenge) together.

4. How to Innovate by Design in a Lean way: Innovation Step-by-Step

Innovate how you create and develop ideas to engage your customers and foster a culture of innovation in your work. Develop a toolkit of activities and a system for the “fuzzy front end of innovation.” In this fast paced, reflective, interactive, and engaging program, you will experience activities and a system for idea development firsthand. Get motivated to innovate by addressing your opportunities with applied systematic creativity using the “Innovation Step-by-Step” process. Follow along with your own challenge to develop new products, services, or organization enhancements. Use the system and activities with your own group after you learn it.

Workshop Objectives & Activities

  • Get familiar with the innovation system through a demonstration.
  • ID a relevant challenge to follow along with and create ideas for.
  • Start to develop relationship as a 5 person team.
  • Learn collaborative tools and techniques for innovation and ideation tapping into customer insights.
  • Guide participants step-by-step with examples and techniques at each stage for their own challenge, developing & validating ideas.
  • Relevant for managers, drivers, and experts who need to practice the innovation process.

5. Lean design thinking team innovation collaboration challenge
Rapid conference or a hackathon to rapidly develop and pitch new concepts

The end of the session is time to put the tools, techniques, and activities we’ve learned by doing into action. There are two options, a Rapid Conference or Team Hackathon.

Rapid Conference Details

Individuals will design a short session to facilitate based on a challenge they would like to get ideas for. The session length is about 10-15 minutes. They will sequence tools or activities that they would like to “prototype” in this rapid session. Teams of 4-5 form and each person takes a turn facilitating their session. The sessions could be on a wide variety of challenges such as new product ideas, ideas to leverage assets/strengths, naming ideas, identifying solutions to a problem, opportunities to seize, learning a new skill, communication ideas, etc. Individuals will see how easy and engaging it is to design a session around tools and techniques that engage participants in new ways.

After facilitating, participants will receive insights on how to take their session to the next level. They will identify a next step to bring their session (or tools/activities) to a group. This is the pinnacle of the day, helping people leave with a toolkit of innovation and brainstorming activities they have used and are planning to put into action to improve their work and life and launch something for their customers.

Team “Hackathon” Details

The team hackathon is focused around teams using the skill they developed in collaborating and rapidly generating and developing ideas designed for customers. We provide a challenge statement. We frame the challenge statement so each team (and individual) can make it their own based on their experience and space.

We provide questions (and examples of products/tech) that would help people focus in a promising direction.

Teams huddle up on their own and swiftly go through the Innovation Step-by-Step steps with some beginning guidance from me on tools to use, questions to ask, combinations to make, examples, etc. Each person will have an Innovation Steps worksheet to help them understand the basics while in action. The teams determine how they want to focus the challenge into a specific problem area, market, etc.

Criteria is identified that would make for the best concepts. They can generate ideas with the criteria in mind and also use it to select which concepts to advance.

Teams turn their top concept into a 1-2 slide presentation with perhaps a very rapid and rough prototype to physically demonstrate. Focus on communicating concept with a format. Who is it for, problem solved, benefit, how it might work, validation of market/interest, etc.

A box of parts or supplies can be available for teams to use for rough prototyping or presentation aids.

After 1 hour of working as a team, the teams will come back together to do short 7 minute pitches. After the pitches a panel of judges can award fun or serious prizes for top concept, best pitch, etc.

More workshop ideas are listed at InnovationTraining.org.

After the Special Event: Innovation Video Activity Programs

After the event participants would use the system, tools, and techniques in their work. They would spend more time designing customer validated concepts that they can iterate and submit for funding. We can build an online toolkit (password protected webpage) that has select innovation training video modules and materials on it. It would be the same system and activities they go through during the day. When they return to their work they can go through the video modules step-by-step to create new product ideas or other innovations.

This collection of innovation workshops is an example of different learning experience that Darin can design and facilitate for your innovation initiative…and train others on facilitating too. Email [email protected] with your questions or ideas.