How To Launch An Innovation Process

Before you eat, you set the table. Before you sell fruit, you create a beautiful display. If you want something to be special, then you have to create the right mood. Before you start your innovation project, your 20time, your Idea Farming, you are going to watch this video. BEFORE you watch the video have students take out paper and pen so that you don’t ruin the mood after the video with five minutes of students searching for paper.

Now Caine’s Arcade might be old hat to some of you, but you’d be surprised how many of your students haven’t seen this video. 

Use the Google Slides below to display questions for the students to answer on their paper. Spend some time letting them write down the answers for each one. Give them space to think.

  • I need/want;
  • My friends need/want;
  • My school needs/wants;
  • My club/sport team needs/wants;
  • My community needs/wants;
  • My family needs/wants.

Here is the Google slidedeck I use. It has all of the videos and questions built in. You can just follow along and have your students answer the questions. Feel free to make a copy and modify it however you want. I have images of past student innovation projects in it.

Then watch this video:


Make those wants/needs the headers on top of the paper or on a Google doc and let students write down as many as they can. Have them share those needs/wants. Ask students to identify common needs and uncommon needs. Have a class discussion around this. What you are doing is preparing the soil in your students hearts and minds. Making people aware of a need is a crucial step in solving that need. You can talk about the needs highlighted in the 2nd Caine’s arcade video.

Then I use the Google Deck to talk about why I think it’s so important to find and fill needs. I talk about Google’s 20time and Design Thinking and empathy. We also watch this video.

Then a share a few images to show them what past students have created with our Idea Farming process. You can find more by searching for #ideaFM or going to the @ideaFM Twitter account.

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Embarking on an innovation process can seem scary to students (and adults). Every single year I get nervous that this is the year where every project will flop and I’ll just mess it all up somehow. The video Lost and Found puts anyone in a mood that reminds them that innovation is exciting and inspiring.

Your observant students will recognize that Blair Somerville is basically a grown-up version of Caine, from Caine’s Arcade.

Once you are done launching the first day, spend some time, days, weeks, months (we’ll get to the time frame later) showing short videos, sharing short articles, having short discussions of the various needs that people have and the various ways that we can address those needs. Find videos that show simple solutions that inspire your students, that get them buzzing.

If you want to find out more about the entire Idea Farming process: from need to feed, there is almost an entire short book worth of material for free on my site.

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