“Well that’s a bold claim…” I thought, as I heard the statement.

But he said it with such a calm demeanor and striking confidence, that it evoked immediate curiosity. “Is that even possible?” I wondered, as I looked around the room to see other people’s reactions.

You’ve probably never heard of Blue Origin, and that’s because up to this point they’ve been very secretive about what they share publicly. Founded in 2000 by Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin is empowered by a vision where millions of people are living and working in space, made possible through their development of a reusable rocket engine.

Blue Origin is a great example of a company that drives innovation; not only in their product development, but in their strategy and culture. Innovation is embedded in their DNA and that’s why they were studied as part of a new space-themed innovation program designed for leaders in high performing organizations.

Insight Solutions had the opportunity to partner on the design and execution of this program, with a firm who specializes in delivering very unique, immersion style, experiential Leadership Development programs. These experiences unfold over several days and are built around an evolving story line, which serves to deepen the learning impact.

The first two days were filled with exclusive, behind the scenes site visits and tours. The participants also heard from some amazing speakers, including a retired astronaut, an expert on design thinking and several people working at cutting edge companies in the space industry.

The third day consisted of an “innovation lab” which was facilitated by Insight Solutions. This session was an opportunity for participants to reflect on and reinforce the learning that took place from the sites they visited, the people who spoke and the experiences they had.

Similar to what was explained in a recent post, the “PAIR” framework was applied as the overall structure for this experience. After some insightful reflection and sharing on key learnings from the first two days, participants were invited to engage in a meaningful, one-on-one dialogue. However, this dialogue wasn’t a conversation. Instead, it was an interview.

Insight Solutions facilitated the exercise by creating the questions and sharing a few techniques to create a meaningful and successful interview. The questions were focused around three key themes: Recalling a real life example of innovation at its best; Connecting to the personal and professional value of innovation and finally, Imagining what a specific business would look like in exactly one year, if innovation were thriving in that organization.

By creating the time and space for these one-on-one conversations to occur, Insight Solutions is able to significantly deepen learning impact. By moving participants from a “see and hear” model, to an active “discussion” model, learning impact can be increased by as much as 2 or 3 times.

An added benefit of these powerful one-on-one interviews is that they present the opportunity for participants to retreat a bit, finding a quiet place to connect. In this case, the pairs were able to get outside, enjoy the sunshine and in some cases, even go for a walk on a sandy beach nearby!

Following the one-on-one interviews, the high energy in the room was leveraged by working in small groups to share, identify and group the key insights and strategies by theme, which were then shared with the entire room.

Next, we determined which of the themes that had emerged from the group work had the most energy with those in the room. This allowed us to essentially determine what topics were most relevant or had the potential to drive the most meaningful impact. The participants voted and two clear topic themes emerged. The first was “Expressing Customer Empathy” and the second was “Creating Space for Innovation”. Now that the group had worked together to identify which two themes had the potential to deliver the most impact, we dug even deeper.

A “one conversation brainstorm” approach was then used to extract ideas from the group on actionable initiatives that would support each of the two themes. A bunch of really great ideas were presented during the brainstorm session, which elicited strong reactions from the crowd in the form of several “ah ha” moments, along with some “oohs and ahhs.”

A significant investment is made any time an organization brings people together. For that reason, Insight Solutions is always focused on ensuring there are actions and outcomes generated from the events we design.

As this event came to a close, the participants were asked an action oriented question around the crowd sourced ideas – “What is the one thing or simplest action you can take to bring one of these ideas we sourced here today, back to implement at your organization immediately?”

As our final exercise to close the Innovation Lab session, a large group circle was formed and participants were invited to step into the circle and either share their commitment to action or any feedback on the Innovation Lab experience.

By creating the space for participants to voice action plans in front of their colleagues, the level of commitment and responsibility to deliver on those commitments is elevated. No surprise, as a result of the connections and bonds that had been formed up to that point, almost everyone in the room chose to share their commitment to action.

Contact Insight Solutions to schedule a strategy session where this approach can be discussed in further detail and the potential impact it can drive within your organization or team.

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