An Innovation Coaching Methodology

by Paul Hobcraft

Coaching offers real benefits. For instance, in Leadership Coaching, the results offer an ROI on the initial investment of nearly SIX times on average. Can you imagine this “X” return factor going through the roof, going way beyond the initial investment if the innovation outcomes ‘take off’ and delivers the level of growth across the organization’s business, partly gained from a greater awareness of innovation and how to apply these different levers within its application?

It often puzzles me the lack of investment we make in coaching, mentoring, or even facilitating around innovation, it simply is not enough with the use of an external innovation expert accelerating the process, stimulating the thinking and learning. That should change and this is one of my personal goals to contribute to this intent so let me offer up a way to approach this.

Let’s look at an innovation coaching methodology

Are you aware, or need to be, we all pass through 4 distinct stages when it comes to learning and being coached?

Unconscious Incompetence – which is the Self-reflection stage (something often missing in our rush to keep moving)

Conscious Incompetence – where you Gain insights with tested tools & techniques (the art of constant testing)

Conscious Competence – we explore Alternative approaches matching to individual’s circumstances and need (gaining identification and buy-in)

Unconscious Competence– gaining the necessary (automatic) Responses for Impact, Behavior change patterns and Results (applying what we have learned as part of our makeup)

Coaching innovation is no different

All new learning needs structure and innovation is no different. The critical recognition is it can be often highly specific to the innovation challenges as well as to the individuals or the team’s needs, appetite and conditions to learn. Those that want to develop stronger innovation competencies and capabilities needs underlying support from their management, it needs to be embedded in the organizations need to innovate.

Here I outline a structure that takes a path for innovation change as a triggering point for future discussions or building:

If we break down these stages with a set of examples on what makes up the stages, it could look like this:

You would look to evaluate progress in each of these but by drawing up a ‘dynamic’ evolving on-going report card you can quickly pick up on what is having an impact and what still needs that work-to-be-done.

This always needs adapting to each organization on what needs building, as well as to each specific individual or structuring the team needs, as each has very clear and specific innovation challenges, constraints and context. The aim is to achieve change; to relate, to learn, to explore and exploit what is (highly) relevant to them as well as within the whole innovation management process. It takes dedicated focus and time but if appled in the real-world of innovating becomes their learing and discovery journey.

Coaching innovation does accelerate the potential within us; it informs and provides a new set of perspectives, it allows individuals and teams charged with innovation, to adopt a more ‘holistic’ view through this engagement with an external innovation expert.

Imagine the return on your innovation coaching investment when you deploy what you learned into those innovation outcomes that grow your organization’s business exponentially on this investment.

image credit: bigstockphoto.com

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paul-hobcraft-150x150Paul Hobcraft runs Agility Innovation, an advisory business that stimulates sound innovation practice, researches topics that relate to innovation for the future, as well as aligning innovation to organizations core capabilities. Follow @paul4innovating

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