How to run a successful Innovation Workshop: Part 2 - Finding the right problem

Which business challenges should you tackle using our Innovation Kit? In this blog, Karin helps you decide which problems are worth focusing on and which are not.

Karin Rudolph

Newicon Academy
·4 min read (983 words)
A rubik's cube that reads: figure it out

Now that you have the right mindset and see the world as a place where innovation is possible, it’s time to start applying your new attitude and find some problems worth solving.

It seems obvious to spend a lot of time and energy on trying to solve problems, but sometimes we need to take a step back and spend some time thinking about the problems we want to solve. Are they relevant? Can they be solved? We need to answer these and start digging into some problem spaces.

What is a problem that's worth tackling?

There is no straight answer.
 
To define this, it can be useful to think about how you see yourself, your role, your relationship with others. And there are the more objective aspects such as the context you are in, the culture of your organization and more broadly speaking the social and cultural context, including external factors, trends and of course other people.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Start by exploring and identifying a range of problems.

In the innovation workshop

Once you and other members of your team get together to find problems to tackle in your workshop, you should feel comfortable expressing what you feel are obstacles, barriers, things you care about and you think should be solved.

You will probably come up with a variety of problems and will be tempted to start thinking about solutions, but hold on to those thoughts for now.

This initial stage is all about defining problems that will be related to the objectives of the workshop.

To help you with this process, start mapping out your daily routine at work, beginning with something you could improve or perhaps something that you find frustrating.

If you need inspiration, have a look at some of the prompt cards (included in the Innovation Kit) to spark some of your creative thinking. (If you haven't got the kit yet, you can sign up for free to get some example exercises, including the prompt cards.)

Whatever you choose, remember the objective of the workshop, this could be as simple as why you are getting together to run an innovation workshop in the first place!  

Sharing ideas 

An innovation workshop is a shared experience and it’s important to encourage group collaboration.

Each member should participate and feel comfortable to share their frustrations, obstacles in a respectful and safe environment.

When everyone has written down one or more problem statements,  then add them to a board - digital or physical - and allow everyone the chance to read other people’s ideas.

Once this is done, then you will have a board with a range of problems related to the objective of the workshop.

 

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You can’t solve all the problem statements, so you and your team will have to choose which ones you consider to be the most relevant ones.

Ideally, you will be able to move a few of these problems to the next phase. 

The number of chosen statements will depend on the number of participants taking part in these sessions and the time available for the workshop.

To help you and your team to decide try some of  the following questions:

Keep in mind that the problem statements you will work on during this workshop are related to the context you are in, so it is important not to try to solve very specific problems or something too general.

Try to take the Goldilocks approach; not too specific as they won’t relate to anyone and not too general that can’t be solved.

Once you and the rest of your team have read each of the problems on the board, then it’s time to choose the challenge you all will be working on for the rest of the sessions.

Turn problems into exciting challenges

Now you have a list of problem statements that can be potentially solved.

It's time to start thinking about these problems in a positive way.

To help with this, here at Newicon we created the “It would be great if” exercise.

In simple terms, this is a problem turned into an opportunity, a challenge that you will embrace. 

Once more, mindset is key.

We are not looking for technical solutions at this stage, only reframing the problem into a new positive state.

Introducing Challenges

All previous statements have now become opportunities.

And in this step you will choose the ones you want to take to the next stage. But before a couple of important points here.

When choosing a challenge it’s important that each participant feels free to choose what they think is the most relevant problem, while accepting if the majority selects a different option.

In situations where decision-making is involved, it might be possible to encounter a phenomenon called “groupthink”.

In groupthink situations, individuals tend to avoid controversial issues or alternative solutions which results in loss of creativity and independent thinking.

Peer pressure and the need to conform can lead to a situation where groupthink occurs.

This can generate frustration and demotivation among the members of a group, Inhibiting people’s ideas, and creating a false sense of agreement. 

Encouraging diverse perspectives and respecting other people's opinions are important elements to run a successful innovation workshop.

Accept the challenge

Now that all the statements are clearly displayed on the board, each participant then do a short

“Show and Tell” where they read out loud their chosen options explaining briefly their choices.

It’s time for you and your team to select the challenge that will be working on for the rest of the workshop.

You do this using a simple voting system in which each participant will add some dots to the statement they want to choose.

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Now you have chosen the challenge that you will be exploring in more detail for the entire duration of the innovation workshop.

Don’t miss our next blog where we'll be sharing tips and exercises that will help you to define the goals and frustration of the people involved in your challenge.

You can get the Innovation Kit with all the exercises, templates, cards  and the Facilitator's book at: https://newicon.net/innovation-kit

 

 


I'm Karin Rudolph

Newicon Academy at Newicon

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