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Innovation in Learning and Development

April 22, 2022

When Manabu Learning won an ‘Innovative Business of the Year’ award in October 2021 it felt strange as I had never once thought of myself as an ‘innovator’.

It felt more like what we were doing was just good business, identifying a problem for our customers and providing a solution.

The excellent book The E-Myth Revisited, Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, by Michael E. Gerber explores the practice of innovation and promotes entrepreneurial approaches to create and maintain a successful business.

These principles continue to guide our approach to learning design so I want to use this article today to identify some actionable steps you can take to include them in your staff development plans.

What is innovation?

Gerber describes innovation as a simple question to ask ourselves:

‘What is the best way to do this?’

 

Is there a faster way?

Is there a cheaper way?

Is there a more effective way?

If so, what is it?

 

Sometimes the best way is a course, a workshop, or a 6-week programme to give people the space to explore new ideas, reflect, research, and embed learning.

But sometimes the best way is a downloadable resource for managers, with 5 good questions to ask a new start, when they take them for a cup of coffee.

Staying with this question and committing ourselves to the answer is how to innovate well.

OK, what else?

Gerber points to 2 further activities we must incorporate to complete our innovation triangle.

Quantification

Measure everything you do!

How do you know the changes you are making are having the desired effect? Are they reducing the time it takes for someone to perform in their role? Do people feel better at work? Are your team sending you less requests and using more initiative?

Orchestration

The final step is to take action!

Put your plans into action with your team and see what works.

Are you getting better outcomes and saving money with a 6-week email campaign for new staff vs last year’s induction day?

If so, keep doing it!

If not, change it!

Using this framework is a great way to start applying these initiatives in your workplace, or even to shake up an old L&D programme.

Challenge yourself today and remember it is a continuous process of innovation, action and measurement that will lead you to success.

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