An innovation facilitator could be your next smart move
You face tough challenges every day, in government, business, or the non-profit world:
- Perhaps you need to plan infrastructure in ways that protect the environment and serve the community or meet stakeholder expectations in cost-effective, meaningful ways.
- You may want to harness the creativity of your team, to ingeniously streamline operations or develop new products/services, so you can stay ahead of the competition.
- You may want to engage donors in clever ways, so you can achieve your goals with sufficient resources.
Making these things easy is an innovation facilitator’s job. In this article, find out what an innovation facilitator can do for you, your team, and your enterprise.
What is an innovation facilitator?
An innovation facilitator is a professional facilitator/consultant who understands how to draw out the creative abilities in individuals and teams, and focus them on a problem you want to solve.
At a minimum, they should be experts in how to facilitate positive group dynamics in meetings and how to guide groups through creative problem-solving — in a day or over time — so that you can reap the benefits of innovation for your organization.
Their skill sets should be broad, so they can understand your leadership challenges, how your organization works, and how business is conducted. For example, a good Innovation Facilitator will be trained in many methods and tools such as group facilitation, design thinking, decision analysis, LEAN continuous improvement, organizational change, process mapping, leadership development, creativity, and more.
In addition, their leadership experience, business savvy, and organizational development training will help you integrate innovation efforts with other parts of the organization.
An innovation facilitator is an investment in your future
An innovation facilitator has the skills and tools to help you transform your big ideas into reality.
On a single project, expect some outrageously good problem-solving on your stickiest issues. If you’re building innovation capacity at your organization, an innovation facilitator will help you foster a culture that consistently delivers ground-breaking ideas, build systems and processes to support innovation, address new challenges, and take advantage of opportunities before the competition can.
In addition, here’s what an Innovation Facilitator is trained to do for you:
- Give Access to a Vast Idea Library. Innovation Facilitators work with organizations in many different sectors, and from each one, they collect unique experiences and insights. Their valuable knowledge will help you to stand out or excel in unexpected ways. For example, I borrowed the “user experience” idea from the software industry to help a team of transportation planners explore solutions to congestion along a road corridor.
- Build Skills in Innovation. Building a culture for innovation can be challenging since many organizations have norms and processes that may stifle innovation; such as having a low tolerance for risk. By working with an Innovation Facilitator, your people will gain skills and develop norms that make it easier to generate new ideas, discuss and critique new solutions more objectively, and know-how to control the risks of innovation. You’ll also understand how existing norms may clash with your innovation efforts, and how to navigate that challenge. Skill-building in innovation delivers these benefits : (1) Individuals gain a greater belief in their creative capacity and tools and methods for tapping into it, (2) teams develop a greater appreciation of each other’s strengths for innovation, learn more effective ways of working together, and produce value for the organization, and (3) leaders hone their ability to shift their leadership style to better support innovation, understand the seemingly messy process, and guide their people without squashing creativity
- Uncover Your Strengths and Cover the Gaps. Many organizations feel they come up short when it comes to innovation. Yet, a skilled observer will uncover existing innovation capabilities within the organization’s culture, structure, processes, practices, norms, and people. An experienced Innovation Facilitator will conduct an initial assessment to map your organization’s existing innovation strengths and gaps. From that understanding, the facilitator will work with you to develop a plan to achieve your goals.
Your organization can become a springboard for success, too
Hiring an innovation facilitator gives you an edge against your competition and sets you up for success. Innovation facilitators can adapt to any industry, because the principles of innovation are the same, regardless. They help you address problems most people may not see and leave groups working better than ever before. Through working with an innovation facilitator, your organization becomes more than just a workplace — it’s transforms into a springboard for new inventions, products, and ideas.
Work with Me
Somersault Consulting LLC designs and facilitates innovation workshops and consults with executives who are planning to set up innovation programs. We also develop and deliver innovation training to executives, managers, and employees.
My promise: No black boxes! My methodology is transparent, and I’ll work with you to plan the approach with you. You’ll know exactly what to expect every step of the way and will have the opportunity to adjust the path forward at any point.
Check out a real-life project facilitating innovation: Value Planning for the City of Olympia, innovation training for emerging leaders at MacDonald Miller, and advising a company innovation initiative at Glosten.
An Innovation Facilitator may be just the partner you’ve been looking for. Get in touch to find out how we can work together.