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How to Provide an Engaging Learning Program Around Innovation

Big Think Edge | April 10, 2018

Innovation and adaptability are the lifeblood of any successful business or organization. However, two of the greatest challenges faced by many development professionals are:


  1. Finding a way to engage employees in learning programs; and
  2. Developing a learning culture that focuses on and promotes innovation.

As businesses become increasingly global and face new daily challenges, it is more important than ever for organizations to develop a strong learning culture. This type of culture helps organizations attract and retain top-quality employees.

How can your organization increase employee learning engagement and innovation? Here are a few of the ways you can approach this challenging task:

Focus on the Positive Attributes

Stuart Crabb, a Big Think expert who serves as the founding partner and Talent Leader at Oxegen Consulting, says that he believes there is an overwhelming emphasis on the negative from many of today’s business leaders. He also states that more emphasis should be placed on helping employees build upon their strengths.

Crabb was responsible for founding and creating the Learning & Development function at Facebook while serving as its Global Head of Learning. In his Big Think video Treating Employees Like People Makes Them Work Like Machines, Crabb says that:

“Everywhere you look you’ll see this focus upon weaknesses as a basis to understand performance excellence… Most organizations are not having conversations about how to build a positive engaging work culture. And they’re not having conversations about how to leverage people’s strengths at work.”

What does this mean for learning and development professionals? In essence, it means finding a way to focus on the positive, which also will help to engage employees and generate interest and enthusiasm for the program. For example, by helping employees build upon their strengths and gain excitement about a new learning initiative, they can benefit more from the content of the program. This, in turn, contributes to increasing the return on investment (ROI) of the learning program and the innovations that can result from employees who experience it.

Engage Employees in the Conversation

Jon Iwata, a Big Think expert and IBM's Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, thinks that it is important for companies to invest in intellectually developing their employees.

“Arguably, every company is an increasingly intellectual capital-intensive company,” says Iwata in the Big Think video Create One-to-One Learning, with IBM’s Jon Iwata. “The value they create, the assets they own is more about what they know.”

One way to approach doing this in face-to-face courses is to engage employees in active learning through a conversation rather than just sitting them in a room to listen to someone lecture. By making employees feel like they are truly a part of the process rather than just an observer, they are more likely to want to engage in learning.

However, learning shouldn’t only be limited to in-person courses. Engaged learning also can be achieved through online courses, video learning programs, and other flexible learning options. Regardless of your organization’s chosen learning format, by establishing a well-known learning culture at your organization, you can attract talented and innovative employees who are eager to grow and learn.

As Big Think expert and former CEO of Thomson Reuters Tom Glocer says in another Big Think article:

“The best employees are the curious employees and those that want lifelong learning," he says. "They want to know how things work. Stimulate that curiosity and desire for learning within your employees and you will open the doors for innovation.”

Encourage Strategic Imagination

Dreaming with purpose is an important concept to Big Think expert and futurist Lisa Bodell. The founder of the innovation research and training firm futurethink says that with the right knowledge and tools, everyone has the power to innovate.

In her video Make Room for Innovation: Key Characteristics of Innovative Companies, Bodell says that it’s important for companies to develop teams of employees with a strong mix of behaviors and skill sets. “There are a lot of companies that are strategic, there are a lot of companies that are creative, but there are very few that have the blend of both,” says Bodell.

Incorporate Relevant Industry Issues, Trends

In an article for Harvard Business Review, Keith Ferrazzi, an author and the CEO of the research-based consulting and training company Ferrazzi Greenlight, says that it is important for business leaders to improve their learning programs. Businesses also should incorporate timely and meaningful issues so as to not just rehash 3-, 5- or 10-year old learning program content.

According to Ferrazzi:

“By clearly understanding the trends emerging in our learning and development programs, we’ll better position our companies to select the right targeted solutions to drive results, increase employee engagement, and increase innovation and productivity.”

Big Think Edge experts are here to help leaders across a variety of industries find solutions to the challenges surrounding employee engagement and innovation in learning programs. To learn more about how our online learning programs and videos by industry experts can help your organization, connect with us today to request a demo.

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