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Innovation Program

Ben Roulston

By Ben Roulston, Thinka Co-founder,
2 April 2024

Thinka’s Innovation Program helps teams build ideation and execution capability to deliver on important business initiatives.

The goal of this program is to develop innovation potential in teams by teaching them skills that build capability in ideation, experimentation and validation. This program also gives teams the tools to move high potential ideas into action, so organisations can leverage this fresh thinking.

Thinka were a brilliant team to work with. Absolute professionals who truly care about every step of the process within a project. They were supportive, creative, flexible, thoughtful and quick to respond with anything we needed.

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Program Purpose

Fast-paced change and competitiveness in business means that product and service innovation is not just a nice to have but the ‘new normal’. This Innovation Program empowers teams to develop skills in ideation and execution, so that Australian businesses can find more innovative solutions to problems. It is designed to help employees in all industries think more like entrepreneurs and startups, leading to more innovation initiatives and greater business opportunity.

Working with organisations in Melbourne, Sydney and across Australia, we know that businesses face unique challenges. Here’s a few of them:

  1. New technology and the rise of Artificial Intelligence: Advancements in technology and the way we work will automate more manual work, changing job roles and what organisations consider valuable. Employees with skills in entrepreneurship and business innovation will become increasingly desirable. 
  2. Complex world of work: Living in a ‘VUCA’ (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment means that employees need to be able to cope with a changing environment that presents constant challenges. Covid recovery, economic instability and hybrid working call for capabilities in employees that help them innovate and handle change. 
  3. Complex macro environment: Employees are dealing with rapid technological change, a fluctuating economy, and rising expectations from organisations. Employees must adapt constantly and be aware of change before it happens. Skills in innovation need to be applied frequently – and often – in response to uncertain and complex conditions.

Overall, these challenges can make it difficult for employees when responding to change and implementing key initiatives. However, with the right support such as an Innovation Program and coaching sessions, employees can overcome these barriers and build supportive relationships to innovate together.

Program Benefits

With the help of this Innovation Program, employees will build these skills to enhance their innovation capability:

  1. Critical thinking: When organisations invest in developing employees’ questioning and thinking capabilities, it leads to more innovative solutions. Instead of moving too fast into ‘solution mode’, employees properly assess problems and work through possible solutions to move forward with confidence.
  2. Problem-solving: New markets, new technologies and new opportunities call for complex problem solving. Organisations are better equipped to deal with ongoing change when they have strong skills in assessing the root cause of a problem, applying strategies to solve problems, and sharing learning experiences with colleagues.
  3. Becoming active learners: Active learning is a critical skill for employees in today’s work environment, as they often need to upskill quickly and respond to changing requirements. Employees develop these skills by keeping an open mind, seeking out new opportunities, and developing a range of learning strategies.
  4. Cognitive flexibility: Effective employees can flex their thinking; anticipating challenges and seeking new opportunities to achieve outcomes. Employees can improve these skills by being prepared to challenge the status quo and being prepared to flex on plans to get traction on initiatives.
  5. Decision making: Employees make well-considered decisions with confidence when they’re prepared and see all points of view. Employees can build this this capability by working through different scenarios, researching and establishing best practice, and by weighing up both positive and negative impacts.

By developing competencies in these practical skills, employees can become better innovators and address business problems and challenges with world-class solutions.

Program FAQs

What is an Innovation Program?

Thinka’s Innovation Capability Program is a course specifically designed for teams. It aims to provide participants with the skills, tools, resources and confidence necessary to develop effective innovation practices. Our specialist facilitators have worked with many teams across Australia and draw from these experiences to offer meaningful advice, practical strategies, and case studies to learn from. The program is supported by a solid roadmap that often includes an activity like a ‘hackathon’ to inspire ideation, problem solving and business innovation.

Why should my organisation offer an Innovation Program?

Being part of this Innovation Program can help teams develop skills and build partnerships across a supportive community of peers. It can also help participants to challenge themselves to uplift ideation and execution capabilities, so they can deliver on key business initiatives. The networking opportunities are crucial to helping employees help each other.

Who can attend an Innovation Program?

This Innovation Program is designed for employees across the board and the program cohort could be made up of leaders and their teams or team members exclusively. The skills we focus on build competencies in tackling business problems, critically thinking through solutions, and executing on priorities. Senior leaders or ‘innovation specialists’ from across the business can also be involved in the program as mentors as well.

Are Innovation Programs only available in person?

Our Innovation Program can be delivered face-to-face or as online learning – depending on the organisation’s set-up. It is typically made up of a series of workshops and/or webinars with case studies and tools to support real world application – so employees can apply strategies and practices right away. Often these workshops are complemented by coaching sessions with a Thinka coach. Coaching plays an important role in challenging old behaviours and supporting the development of new, innovation-focussed behaviours in each of the participants.

Program Case Study

Think Like a Disruptor Program with H&H Group (Swisse)

 

1. What was the objective?

H&H Group identified a need to integrate agile ways of working into the business – from the way the team works to a focus on innovation to achieve their strategic objectives. We partnered with the P&C team to build innovation capability that enabled the team to ‘do things first and do things fast’, fostering the Think Like a Disruptor (TLAD) and Think Like An Owner (TLAO) mindsets.

2. How did we do it?

In a series of 2-hour virtual masterclasses, we delivered tool-based approaches to allow participants to innovate and solve problems in their current roles. These masterclasses included discussions about ‘Convergent and Divergent Thinking’, ‘The Double Diamond’, ‘Human Centred Design’, ‘Cognitive Flexibility’ and ‘Outcome-Driven Collaboration’. Participants also practised application of these skills in the context of relevant workplace scenarios. At the end of each Masterclass, participants were provided with case studies of organisations successfully applying the skill and an application activity to continue their personal exploration.

3. How was it integrated and what were the results?

This program was a part of a broader strategic focus on innovation business-wide, and included a ‘hackathon’ – where teams hacked key business problems to be solved. This was backed up by a pitching event (that was themed in the spirit of ‘Shark Tank’), where teams presented their solutions – competing for financial support from the business to help them fund the development and commercialisation of their solution.

Example program

Month 1

Innovation and design thinking

An introduction to innovation and learning about design thinking methods.

  • Induction
  • Program roadmap
  • Virtual workshop
  • Application tools

Month 2

Working together to ‘hack’

In groups, using design thinking methods to ‘hack’ potential solutions to a problem.

  • In person ‘hackathon’ activity
  • Application tools
  • Virtual group coaching

Month 3

Validating potential solutions

  • Virtual workshop
  • Application tools

Month 4

Using influence to present ideas

  • In person group presentations
  • Application tools

Month 5

Moving ideas into action

  • In person workshop
  • Application tools
  • Virtual group coaching

PROGRAM Outline

Delivery Options

In Person Program

Virtual Program

Hybrid Program

Key Outcomes

1. Team members who understand the types of innovation and what it means to be ‘innovative’.

2. Team members who can apply design thinking methods.

3. Team members who can collaborate on ideas and validate their potential.

4. Team members who know how to use influence to present ideas.

5. Team members who can execute and move ideas into action.

Possible Inclusions

1. Program roadmap

2. Induction

3. Welcome box

4. Workshops

5. Activities (e.g. Hackathon)

6. Guest speakers

7. Tools for application

8. Assets (e.g. eLearning, video)

9. Coaching

10. Participant management

Target Audience

Teams

Our in-person delivery option maximises opportunities for robust conversation, experiential activities and intensive group work. This is no ‘death by PowerPoint’ experience – our facilitators are skilled in presenting and leading immersive experiences that get the most out of people. Supported by multimedia, attractive takeaway pages and practical strategies for using back on the job – this in-person approach is valuable for building strong bonds and bringing people together to collaborate.
Q
Our virtual delivery option breathes fresh life into the online experience with its almost ‘radio show’ feel. Our expert facilitators use a combination of multimedia, questioning techniques and break out activities to target micro-skills – with a focus on application. Supported by an online platform hosting custom-built materials, participants can be assured of lively, dynamic sessions that have a distinct bias to action. Going virtual keeps program sessions succinct, sharp and focused on targeting particular skills in a dynamic way.
Q
A hybrid model takes the best of in-person and virtual delivery options and blends them together, so there’s a healthy mix of face to face collaboration and targeted skill building. Depending on the program themes, we work with you to decide what is better suited to getting together in a training space versus what would sit comfortably in an online setting. This flexible combination allows you and your team to get the best of both worlds.
Q
This program is aimed at building innovation potential in team members (and perhaps team leaders), so organisations can access fresh thinking and find novel solutions to problems. It gives teams fundamental skills in ‘hacking’ – so they can present ideas back to the business that are viable and worthy of execution.
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