Who to invite in an innovation workshop

By: Katerina Nikolaou

If you are a fan of working with new methodologies like design thinking, customer journey mapping, lean startup and many more, you have had your share of workshops! You will also know that working through workshops is a great way to work, but not always efficient.


One critical success factor for any workshop is who you invite to participate!


After designing and facilitating many workshops in various companies, here is a list on who to invite.


Someone who can see the opportunities

Being able to see above and beyond what is obvious, or what is feasible today is very important. Not everyone is a visionary, open minded and aware of the opportunities. Make sure you get that dreamer, even if his or her ideas might seem to be a bit our there!


Someone who can draw

Innovation and learning are both very visual processes in many respects. Being able to visualize stimulates both parts of the brain which means that people can expand their perspective, make connections easier and be more creative in their thinking. Visualizing also helps the teams have a common understanding and accelerate their pace. Having someone in the team that can visualize the information can prove very useful for the process and the outcomes.


Someone who is disciplined

Contrary to what many people might think, innovation is not a chaotic process and does not equal creativity, it includes creativity and essentially tries to turn creativity into reality! Innovation is a very methodical process and requires strong discipline! Following the steps, keeping the information organized and updating it constantly with the new validated learnings is critical.


Someone who will challenge the status quo

Challenging the status quo is that the very core of innovation. Being able to go beyond the mental constrains each one of us has is very important in achieving disruption. Some people have this as a personality trait, others need to be develop it. Try to get in the group someone who already has it, so that it will inspire others in that direction. Be careful, we are not looking for the “yes, but” person, who continuously seems a problem for every solution.


Someone who knows the company

Well, this seems straight forward but make sure you get people who are objective about the company, not in love with it. It is important to have someone who knows the company, because we want the process to produce feasible and viable ideas and projects. Having a good perspective of our current reality will help create realistic roadmaps to the future.


Someone who is outside the company

Getting an outside perspective can really help the company. Look at your strategic partners to find the right person and make sure you don’t get someone who will just agree with you, in order to keep a good business relationship. It is very valuable to have partners who will be honest with you, even if what they have to say is not what you wanted to hear!


Someone who knows the process, tools & methodologies

Having a good facilitator will keep the team on track, ensure it keeps moving in the right direction, manage conflicts and ultimately safeguard that your workshop is successful!


Workshops can seem like a messy process, and it might get more messy and confusing before those wonderful AHA moments start popping up! Eventually, you will get more clarity, faster and in directions you wouldn’t have thought otherwise.


Of course, there are many aspects and ingredients that go into a good innovation workshop.


What else do you think is important for a good workshop?