Innovation Learning

While Frontier offers very little ‘training’ in the traditional sense, we do encourage “learning”, and that too often in areas not directly related to the work we do. Team members carry out regular ‘learning presentations’ where they impart knowledge to each other based on their own specific areas of interest. We also regularly send team members to regional workshops and conferences quite early on in their stints; a reward mechanism that also broadens and expands knowledge and experience.

Most of this learning has very little to do with the actual work Frontier does. Rather than being nonsensical, we believe this approach to learning forms the core of what we are about. As the authors of The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators point out, the key to innovating is engaging in ‘discovery activities’.

Innovators combine elements of various ideas and practices that other people don’t put together. They draw connections that cross boundaries, linking concepts from one discipline or culture with those from another. To build your associative skills, try “forced association,” linking objects that don’t logically fit together. Use metaphors to highlight associations. Assemble a “curiosity box” of random items and try to relate them to jump-start your creativity

Innovators make a point of meeting people whose lives and training give new and different perspectives. This is one way to “build a bridge into a different area of knowledge.” Innovators look at different disciplines that solved similar problems and borrow from their ideas. Travel builds bridges to multiple perspectives; living abroad builds even more.

Many innovators seek forums or events that promote interdisciplinary discussion and creativity, like the Technology Entertainment and Design (TED) conferences. These gatherings bring experts and interested thinkers together to discuss topics that intersect with several of the forum’s broad, complex fields. Attend a conference outside your field, or join a networking group for innovation

Innovative organizations extend their discovery processes to an institutional level. For example, instead of just hoping that their employees network, Google and Procter & Gamble swapped staff members for a few weeks so they could see how the other company worked and experience each other’s processes. Some firms have contests or tournaments in which people outside the organization give or build ideas, sometimes in response to specific challenges. Innovative companies offer materials, time and funding for prototyping.

Forward-looking firms believe “innovation is everyone’s job.”While most companies focus on incremental change, these firms invest heavily in “disruptive innovation.”

Keeping ourselves constantly refreshed with diverse experience is a primary way in which we grow and improve. Simply restricting yourself to one field is not possible any longer. Fields today are merging and diverging at an unprecedented, unpredictable level. Staying on top means keeping ahead of the pack, and that means learning from any and every source that catches our interest.

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