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What are the keys to being more innovative with training design?

Do you need to be a "creative person" in order to design creative or innovative training? I don't think so. But you do need to be a risk taker. And you probably need a method to your madness.

Seriously, what are they?

I have my own thoughts, but one person’s innovation is another person’s silly idea. That’s why I’d love to hear your thoughts about what you feel are the keys to being more innovating in training design in the comment section.

Since you’re already here, I suppose I’ll share several keys that I feel are most important in bringing innovation to learning programs.

A lot of times people equate “innovation” and “creativity”, and I’ve met a lot of people who feel that since they’re not creative, they can’t be innovative. I disagree with this. I think that there is a method to the madness of innovation and the following are some steps in that process.

Begin with a challenge or problem. Innovation just for innovation’s sake definitely has a time and place, but I don’t know a ton of L&D professionals who have time to experiment on projects just to see what they can create. Perhaps the most important driver of innovative design is a challenge or problem you’ve been asked to help solve through learning programs.

Brainstorm possible solutions (note: solutions is plural… don’t stop with your first idea). This is the fun part. Don’t be afraid to generate some outlandish ideas, sometimes that’s where some real solutions can come from. They key here is quantity, not necessarily quality. Yet.

Pick one idea. After you’ve generated some different ideas and approaches, you will eventually need to choose one idea. Perhaps it’s the best idea of the bunch. Perhaps you’re able to combine several ideas into one possible solution. Perhaps you’re concerned that you didn’t identify a single, perfect solution. You can’t let perfect be the enemy of the good here, so choose the best idea of the bunch and decide how to craft a workable solution out of it.

Test your idea. Keep in mind you’re not necessarily testing your idea to prove how amazing it is. Your first test (or pilot or beta or dry run) exists to identify holes in your idea, to make observations about how something will work once you get that idea out of your head and into the real world, and it’s also an opportunity to collect feedback.

Iterate. Take the lessons from your testing and improve that original idea.

What’s missing from this? What other advice might you give to someone who wants to be more innovative in their training design? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comment section!

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