More on innovation

In an article from the ‘Think with Google‘ site, Google employee Susan Wojcicki looks at the subject of innovation. We touched in this in an earlier post, and in this article on what Susan calls the ‘8 pillars of innovation’, we find some interesting points we can apply to organisations providing learning. The article is at the link below: article – 8 pillars of innovation

The article looks at 8 points, and uses examples from Google to explain them. Can the points be applied to providing better learning solutions? Lets look at some of the ‘pillars’ mentioned;

“Have a mission that matters”: For any organisation involved with learners, the mission should be all about those learners. If this is the case, then what is developed will meet their needs. There won’t be development of platforms or systems because ‘everyone else is doing it’, develop these because you see the opportunity to better meet learners needs.

“Think big but start small”: Excellent advice. Dont try to do everything all at once, build up to where you want to go. You may want to have all your programs to have an online component. That’s OK, but start small – pick one sector to start with, and build from there.

“Strive for continual innovation, not instant perfection”: More great advice, which follows on from point 2. (I don’t think you can get ‘perfection’ anyway, what does that really mean?) It’s far better to start small and continually get better. If you try to get something ( a course or a resource) perfect before you release it to learners, then you will spend a lot of time trying to create something that the learners may not need. Release it when its usable, and then improve it from there (the learners will provide you with good feedback as well!)

“Look for ideas everywhere”: There are a couple of aspects to this. One relates to locking yourself into one delivery mode, whereas if you can use a range of options, you can better meet your learners needs. The other is to look for ideas from the learners. They have some good ideas about what they want, and are often prepared to share them.

“Share everything”: Some learning organisations seem to love the ‘silo’, and set up systems that make it hard for staff to share. This can be the case with forms of e-learning, where some who know a bit about it want to keep everything to themselves, perhaps because they are now an ‘expert’. Sharing information about issues and successes keeps everyone in the loop, and good ideas can come from different sources.

“Spark with imagination, fuel with data”: I love the idea of ‘20% time’. Perhaps this isn’t that practical for your organisation, but you can encourage new ways of thinking. During team meetings, spend some time exploring different ideas. Brainstorm different options for what you do now. Circulate case studies of what other have done and asked how that idea would work. What might happen if this sort of thinking was encouraged? This links to the last point.

“Never fail to fail”: Most people don’t like to fail, but everyone does to some degree. It is not failing that’s the problem, its failing to learn the lessons. Analyse why it didn’t work, and then address that.


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