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How to facilitate effective innovation days

In the fierce contemporary business environment, we always hear people ramble on about the importance of innovation. So much so, more organisations are starting to implement workforce innovation days.

An innovation day involves the workforce splitting into small teams to try and solve a problem relevant to the business. For companies such as: Suncorp, Microsoft and Google, these innovation days have been pivotal for building high performance teams.

For those employees that participate in innovation days, it means much more than just working in a team to design a solution. Instead, they are working in a team to develop strategic ideas that the company could actually implement. This sets the scene for a highly motivated team as there is a strong sense of empowerment and purpose amongst members.

So, how can your organisation implement innovation days to maximise team performance? This article will take a look at the three key steps to facilitating an effective innovation day.

Step 1: Ideate

The ideate stage introduces teams to the issue and provides context around the issue so that ideas can be brainstormed. To promote effectiveness, here are a few sneaky hints!

Firstly, it is important to gain commitment by pitching why the business problem is a pressing issue and how it could potentially harm the future success of the organisation. By not answering the ‘why,’ employees are likely to care less about the issue. As such, passion and creativity may be lacking whilst designing a potential solution.

Secondly, to promote more active involvement by members at this stage, it is recommended that team formations are no larger than five.

Finally, there is a tendency for teams to rush this stage of problem solving and start going into detail about one specific idea before considering all available options. To reduce the risk of this, it is recommended that facilitators provide a time guide for teams.

Step 2: Prototype

This step involves teams taking their core ideas further. To promote highly effective prototypes at this stage, it is recommended that teams get the opportunity to discuss their ideas with coaches and mentors in the business. This will assist in highlighting any idea weaknesses and capitalising on any key strengths.

Step 3: Validate

The final step encourages teams to present their solution to their colleagues and other key stakeholders. This particular step is essential for two reasons. Firstly, it provides another opportunity for feedback so that elements of the idea can be strengthened. Secondly, even if the idea isn’t implemented, it provides teams with a sense of achievement for participating in the innovation day and producing a final product.

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