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The library of essays of Proakatemia

Guide to an Innovation Session



Kirjoittanut: Tuuli-Emily Liivat - tiimistä SYNTRE.

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Recently, I had an amazing opportunity to combine my prior knowledge and experience into creating an innovation paja for SYNTRE. This essay aims to identify the primary components of an interactive innovation session and analyse its strengths for you to use immediately.

Finally, I sincerely hope that you can reflect on the essay as well as share and use the tools below to have a high-quality innovation session and a more aware team.

 

Before the innovation session: tune into your wants and needs.

The first two months of our second semester of the year have been heavily focused on the identity of SYNTRE as a team. We have reflected on our values and tuned them to fit us better as well as revised our mission and vision statements. In our discussions, one of the key takeaways for the entire team was that we wished to focus more on the business-side of our studies through being more present and open with each other. 

 

This lead to us having a voluntary shark tank session, where teampreneurs could gather for various reasons:

  1. a) to share their ideas with others to find collaborators
  2. b) to receive feedback on improving their idea
  3. b) to practise their pitching skills
  4. c) to support the team by presenting an idea and/or showing up
  5. d) for all to practise feedback giving and sharing their thoughts.

Each presentation had 3 minutes for presenting the idea and 10 minutes for feedback. Finally, all ideas were discussed and through discussion, it was mutually agreed that the ideas that were talked of the most could be used in an innovation session later on in the week. During the shark tank, four ideas were chosen to continue developing with the rest strongly recommended to keep developing as projects. The four ideas chosen differed from each other with project length (one-time vs continuous projects), project type (products vs service) and field of interest.

 

The person to host the session was chosen based on volunteering and the pre-task for everyone was to choose a project based on a short introduction that interested them the most. Through this, the guests could have an increase in personal motivation to join, share and build their ideas on top of one another’s for the best possible quality in the final result. We based our innovation training session on an interactive book called Ideaopas2 created by Idema Oy, which is a Proakatemia alumni company.

The Session: Outlining the strengths.  

The training session was an incredible success with projects taken into further development and our teampreneurs congratulating the flow of the training session during the breaks.

 

The session’s structure was the following:  

* Start of the session, communicating goals, introduce the problems and have a teambuilding energizer exercise

* Phase I: build ideas further

* Come together, share progress, receive feedback through questions encouraging development

* Phase II: Finalise the idea and concrete steps

* Introduce the work to everyone

What made the session so great were the following steps:

 

“Bringing in some other brains.” (Forbes)

The purpose of bringing in some other brains is to gain fresh perspectives. To make this come true, not everyone was present at the shark tank pitching, meaning that we would already have people that would only know the projects from the introduction given to them as a pre-task. We were, however, incredibly lucky to have 8 guests join us from different teams. The guests made it possible to completely shake up group dynamics and people had to go through team building that aligned the problem-solving teams, remain respectful and build on top of each other’s ideas.

 

Wracking brains with feedback.

The session structure divided the content into two phases. Firstly, the project teams had to refine their idea further by outlining the target group, expanding the content of the project and doing competitor research. After a break, all of the participants got together in order to share their work with others, adding accountability for their work. The participants were then encouraged to write down questions in the format of “Have you thought of…” to encourage idea suggestions. Through feedback comments and questions, the team got immediate responses and input on bettering the product or service. The second part of the ideation focused on using the feedback and making concrete plans.

 

Using adequate tools to provoke and aid ideation.

The training session slides provided the participants with tools to use for their ideation. Methods such as the 5x Why, Have you thought of.., Choice matrix and Timeline chart supported the teams with the framework while still allowing the teampreneurs to think outside the box and focus on their products or services.

 

Freedom with a limit. (Forbes)

The teams received clear instructions of what results they are expected to bring and freedom to organise their work accordingly while including an appropriate time for a break in between. As the session included a get-together feedback session in the middle, the second part of the brainstorming had less time for more concrete plans, meaning that the teampreneurs were under time pressure to produce results.

Learning by doing.

The feedback received after the training session had been held was primarily enjoyment of a refreshing content. In our training sessions, we primarily use dialogue and sit still to refine ideas and key points. Energizers or more practical, hands-on training sessions work great to refresh the brain and provide new solutions. The teampreneurs largely felt that they had the freedom to choose the project and ideate, fully use supporting tools that did not burden them and particularly enjoyed that a theory or a tool was introduced to them that they could put into practice immediately.

Personal reflection

Hosting training sessions is something that I should focus on more as I do it rarely, thus I was exceptionally glad to have a successful experience of hosting a training session that kept the participants in high spirits despite the early hours. One of my personal weaknesses when it comes to organising training sessions is that I tend to research too much into materials, which is why I was also presented with a challenge to stick to one book. The end result saw me use an energizer from experience, one other source to explain the energizer and the Ideaopas2 book, which helped me a lot in understanding that one needs to have confidence in the content they are basing their work on.

I was glad to show my strengths by providing a more practical training session and am proud to say that I’m happy with how great and proactive the atmosphere was. Another aspect that I am proud of is that after the training session, the team is immediately continuing with three projects, which to me shows that innovation sessions are of utmost importance to nurture the team, provide a successful experience and develop the team.

Hosting the innovation training session restored my confidence in hosting and I am looking forward to having more hosting experience in the near future.

 

Sources.

Book, Idema Oy. Ideaopas2. Tampere, 2013.

Article, Forbes. Shields, K. Five Ways To Boost your Creativity During Ideation. May 1st, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2019/05/01/five-ways-to-boost-your-creativity-during-ideation/?sh=78c809c86ff5   

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