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Open Innovation Toolbox

Innovation Workshops with Many

Method in brief

  • The search for ideas for a new product or a technology is normally based on a familiar problem or a current trend, market or technology analysis of the future (innovation foresight). You will obtain diverse results in this phase, not only through the team’s creativity, but also through users, stakeholders and interested parties from your business area.
  • During the course of a one to two-day innovation workshop, a carefully selected group made up of participants both external to and within the enterprise will revise a portfolio of ideas using special creativity methods, which are suitable for further development steps of an innovation project.
  • Format: On-site workshop or even supported online (discussion forum, idea platform). Both options necessitate a qualified moderator.

Increase innovation potential and develop innovation culture

Enterprise internal innovation workshops do not always present new ideas due to the familiar team and environment. It requires additional creative minds to break through the conventional thinking patterns and help the team with their specific knowledge and experiences, which have been gained outside of the enterprise. Interested users, suppliers, scientific employees, students, professionals or even experts of other sectors increase the level of quality when finding ideas and solutions by contributing a vision beyond the horizon of the enterprise.

The objective of an innovation workshop is to find new ideas and/or starting points for innovation projects in a specifically guided group process. It supports enterprises in the

  • specification of new innovation strategies,
  • finding new ideas for new products, services, processes and business models, as well as
  • the assessment and selection of suggestions (idea descriptions)

Innovation workshops are designed methodically with a mix of different creative techniques and idea-generating methods, and service as a the preparatory work for an independent innovation project.

For an innovation workshop you should set a time-frame of at least 1 to 2 days. The careful selection and structure of the participant group is essential for the success of a workshop. For reasons concerning the group dynamic, it should be made up of participants who are socially similar; however, who provide different knowledge professionally (e.g. generalists vs. specialists; motivators vs. critical thinkers). The group can consist of a minimum of 6 people and a maximum of 15. In the preparatory phase, it is very important to think about the desired end-result of the workshop. Should as many ideas as possible be generated which are then further developed afterwards within the company? Or, should 2-3 rough ideas for a problem, product and technology concept be developed from outside with indications.

Here you can see an example of how an innovation workshop is run if a specific problem is already known (see Types of Innovation Workshops according to Geschka (1986; 2010)):

Step 1: In preparation: clarification of taks, determination and/or specification of search fields, which provide the framework for the search for a problem solution.

Step 2: Ideation/idea generation:
Creativity techniques, like the 6-3-5 method, 6-thinking hats method, brainwriting, card rotation technique, mind mapping or the Walt Disney method, aid in finding new idea combinations. Ideation techniques, like Rip and Rap, Alter Ego or Reverse Thinking necessitate the understanding, presentation power and creativity of the operator.

Step 3: Screening of many different ideas

Step 4: Multi-stage idea consolidation and transfer.


Summary: Ideas are generated following a careful clarification of tasks, they are sorted (structured), assessed and prioritised according to sectors; promising ideas are consolidated creatively and in terms of content; and, the most promising ideas are selected again; descriptions are then compiled for just a few ideas, which show the other steps of implementation; finally, these prepared idea concepts are finally ranked.

The following, selected, variable influences can influence the occurrence, implementation or result of innovation workshops at the level of the enterprise, participants and the workshop itself:

  • Preparation: The more prepared an innovation workshop is (search fields as framework), the more targetedly good ideas will arise with a great deal of potential.
  • Moderation: Moderators lead, decide and motivate in order to encourage participants to think more unusually.
  • Sufficient time: In terms of the solution, it is not worthwhile restricting the time too much. Nevertheless, there should be a schedule for the implementation.
  • Composition of participants: Experiences and skills that are required must be clearly defined. Success factors are a socially homogeneous and professionally heterogeneous group, as well as the inclusion of relevant stakeholders and there must be a willingness from the employees to integrate.
  • Determine a clear objective and a worthwhile structure: This influences the participants’ motivation and the quality of the workshop results.
  • Idea generation: All ideas and suggestions for improvement must be handled impartially and taken seriously. The generation of ideas should, however, be fun and the innovation workshop should be an experience.
  • Motivation: The participants’ motivation determine the participation and influence the quality of the results. It is the foundation for all effort and at best it is intrinsically driven. If the motivation is in fact extrinsic, then the participant should receive appropriate consideration/remuneration and not the feeling that they have been exploited.
  • Credibility and fairness: A honest attitude, respectful, integer and sincere interaction with the participants is important. Agreements and consultations must be maintained.

Progress report

Interview: Innovations Workshops and Fairness-Aspects

The Austrian Mobile Power association was founded in 2009 to promote knowledge and skills in electromobility in and out of Austria. The platform networks Austrian actors and relevant players from politics, management and economy of the e-mobility sector. The platform bundles and conveys expertise in electromoboloty and promotes the implementation of electromobility solutions, products and services. More information at: https://www.austrian-mobile-power.at

In the interview, Mr. Heimo Aichmaier, Managing Director of Austrian Mobile Power, reports about his experience in executing innovation workshops.

Go to the interview

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