We know this: to get better at anything we must train. To train effectively, we have to be motivated to learn new practices and systems, and be willing to apply them to our eeffort.
Runners and elite athletes know this. Professionally speaking, doctors, lawyers, engineers, skilled tradespeople and workers across a number of jobs and professions, all undergo significant training. They also participate in ongoing professional training as they progress in their field.
But what about mid-sized and large companies? What are they training for?
Today few companies operate without a training function, which might exist within Human Resources or a Professional Development department. But what do employees learn? Typically learning is rooted in company culture or “the way” of doing things, as well as tactical execution of specific types work – all of which are to be expected.
But why aren’t companies also training their people to solve tough questions, the kind that don’t have scripted answers? Questions such as:
- What’s next for our business?
- What will help us outperform our industry competition?
- What will keep us from falling behind or becoming irrelevant, especially as digital transformation continues to accelerate and drive urgency, even during the Covid era?
TRAINING FOR WHAT’S NEXT
Training for “what we know” is relatively straightforward. There is a playbook with instructions. Follow the playbook, get results.
Surprisingly, training for “what’s next” is nearly identical. There is in fact a process that serves as a playbook that gets innovative results when it’s followed. That process is called human-centered design, or HCD. HCD is all about understanding the needs of your customers and stakeholders. The difference of training what “what we know”, and training for “what’s next”, is not getting hung up on defining what’s next from the outset. Instead of predetermining what the outcome must look like, it is the act of engaging the process that reveals the best outcome.
Here’s an example:
This famous nine-dot puzzle asks you to connect all nine dots with four straight lines, without lifting your pen from the paper.
When working only with what we know or what is implied, it’s impossible to meet the challenge. In many respects, this mirrors corporate America’s over-reliance of lean manufacturing or operational excellence. It only works with the existing parameters of what is, not what could be. And that doesn’t reveal what’s next. It confines companies by what they know, and is limited by their own experience.
To solve the problem, requires creative thinking and getting outside the box that confines how we see growth. If the nine dots represent “what we know”, then the perimeter is where human-centered design resides. Pushing the boundaries and going outside the grid is where we’ll discover what’s next, not inside our existing systems that churn on what we know.
Most of us are stumped until someone “shows” us this solution.
And that is the would-be innovator’s frustration. Nobody has shown or trained them how to innovate and think differently. But once we know the process, the possibilities are endless.
Innovation training sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not. You can train to become more innovative. But company leaders have to be motivated to deploy new practices and systems, and be willing to apply them to our effort.
Learning something new is hard. Just like trying to lose weight, get fit, eat better, or any other goal we might have, if we aren’t committed, if we don’t have a trainer who is going to do the hard work with us, our initial motivation will subside. We’ll cheat, cut corners, and eventually fail to see the desired outcome. This is why HBR has cited that only nine percent of U.S. companies are doing any serious innovation.
THREE REQUIREMENTS OF INNOVATION TRAINING
In a year when companies have been forced to rethink how they work, what they offer, and how they’ll remain competitive, we are committed to helping those who want to learn and grow by training them for what’s next.
The process is called THE GREENHAUS METHOD.
Like the name implies, it is a process and environment intended to nurture and grow ideas to maturity so that they can compete in the market.
It involves a cross-functional group of curious and engaged teammates who want to unlock the company’s potential; a commitment to learning and applying a new process; and the space to prototype, test, and iterate ideas based on customer insights.
At first blush, this looks easy to implement within any company. In fact, once companies experience the Greenhaus Method, it becomes a repeatable, teachable process for themselves and provides an exponential return on investment.
But without a trainer to hold the company’s team accountable, and pushing them forward through the hard parts of the process when the team wants to quit, breakthroughs won’t happen.
A NEW BUSINESS REALITY
If you’re familiar with the weight-loss reality TV show “The Biggest Loser”, you can appreciate the purpose of a trainer and the Greenhaus Method. Without being in the right environment, with the right people, and following the right process or regimen, contestants couldn’t shed massive amounts of weight – transforming their bodies and their future.
Now imagine what those same three elements (team, space, process) could mean for the transformation (especially the digital transformation) of your company. Imagine having the discipline and the encouragement of an innovation trainer throughout the entire journey to realize your desired breakthrough. And imagine what’s at stake for the company that doesn’t even try.
While the Biggest Losers on TV are admired for what’s possible, businesses aren’t admired for what they shed. There are winners and losers in the race to stay competitive and offering what customers desires. Companies that fail to learn, train, and embrace what’s possible with pragmatic innovation training will find themselves getting left behind in this competitive reality.
When companies are trained to look at current, future and even past customers, they will see a way forward. When companies are trained on what to do with customer insights, they will have confidence in a way forward. And when companies are trained to iterate, test, and build innovative new offerings based on that way forward, they will discover what’s next.