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The Innovation dojo concept: a holistic innovation training

Magic happens when Design Thinking, Agile, and Moderation skills come together

By Johanna Rosenbusch & Christoph Lütz

Before we go into details about the innovation dojo, a quick remark on who we think the audience of these articles is: either you are a facilitator yourself and want to see how others do trainings in the innovation space. Or you are part of an organisation that is looking for trainings and best practices. Maybe you just stumbled over this. In any case: welcome!

We are sharing all this content in this series of the #innovationdojo, because we believe this can be helpful to more people than we'll ever be able to coach and train. We hope that it will be replicated, adapted, stripped to individual sessions and put together in ways we could not imagine. But enough talking, let’s go!

3 Boxes, one for each module of the training, having each 4 sub-boxes. Module 1 consists of "Intro", 2x "Design Thinking" and "Toolbox". Module 2 consists of "Design Thinking", "Agile", "Moderation", "Session Prep". Then follows Individual Session before Module 3 starts, consisting of "Moderation", "Failure Culture", "Open Space" and "Inno Big Picture"

Modular content flow

Innovation Dojo has a modular design of 3 modules, each consisting of up to 2 full days of training. Between the second and the third module, participants hold individual sessions, which they prepared in module 2. They share their insights and learnings from those sessions in module 3.

The setup is modular and can be adjusted according to the organisational learning needs. For example: the block of failure culture can be held earlier, depending on the level of openness among participants. Or with some organisations, other topics such as Feedback Culture should be included. Therefore, with some organisations, the dojo fills 6 days of training, with others it's 5 days.

We recommend holding the modules weekly with 5 days between modules 1 and 2 to allow time to reflect and digest the learnings. A bit more time, e.g. 1.5 weeks between modules 2 and 3 are needed to allow enough time to actually hold the individual sessions.

A horizontal box labeled "Module 1” and then 2x2 vertical boxes beneath it, showing: “Intro”, two diamonds next to each other and "Design Thinking”, two diamonds next to each other and "Design Thinking", a toolbox and “Toolbox”

Module 1

Module 1 starts by introducing the intention of the training, the way we’ll be working and giving teams the time to get to know each other. Then they’ll be guided through a Design Thinking Iteration on a currently relevant challenge of their organisation. The module ends with an introduction of the toolbox, which we’ll revisit in the following modules, each time reflecting on the methods that were experienced (in this case Design Thinking).

A horizontal box labeled "Module 2" and then 2x2 vertical boxes beneath it, showing: two diamonds next to each other and "Design Thinking", arrow in a loop and "Agile", speech bubble and "Moderation", speech bubble and "Session Prep"

Module 2

Module 2 starts with a re-iteration of their prototypes from module 1. The team collaboration is then being reflected in their first retrospective. This marks the first step onto the meta-level: How did we collaborate? It’s also the starting point for adding agile rituals to the toolbox.

The second day of that module marks the turning point from experience to application: Each participant starts preparing a collaborative session which they’ll moderate for colleagues in the time between module 2 and 3. Sessions should be designed using the tools they learnt so far (Design Thinking, Agile, Moderation) and aim to solve a challenge from their daily work.

A vertical line labeled “Individual Sessions” followed by a horizontal box labeled "Module 3” and then 2x2 vertical boxes beneath it, showing: a speech bubble and "Moderation", a cross and “Failure Culture", two overlapping speech bubbles and “Open Space" and a sun set and “Inno Big Picture"

Module 3

Module 3 thrives of the application experiences the participants made in their own sessions. It also has space for additional topics, e.g. Failure or Feedback Culture, as well as the outlook on “bigger” Innovation topics such as ongoing innovation and agile projects in the organisation. A key element is the Open Space format, in which participants and coaches host sessions on topics and questions that are relevant to all, e.g. method deep dives or project examples.

From participant to co-creator

Two triangles, one blue, starting in the left and becoming thinner while the red one starts thin on the left and is full on the right side. The blue triangle is labeled "Experience" and shows 1 person next to an arrow that goes over three persons. The red triangle is labeled "Apply + Co-create" and shows three persons, one arrow going over them from left to right and one arrow going below them from right to left..

In the beginning participants are students. The focus of the dojo lies on them understanding the methods and mindset. The further we progress, the more opportunities arise to share knowledge, take hosting roles and co-create/form their own training experience. In module 3, the roles are finally fluid – everyone can become a host, everyone can be a participant. The participants shift from “being guided” into owning their knowledge and experience and using it to guide each other.

In blue on the left: Three people on top of a half circle and over them a thought bubble with the text “So this is…” then a arrow that loops from the left visual to the one on the right, changing color from blue to red. Then a visual on the right, in red, one person with a thought bubble and the text “How do I …” and three people on top of a half circle.

That’s why every dojo is different: it’s all about the people that come together at that moment in time. We as facilitators believe that not only we have something to teach others, but that everyone brings something valuable to the table.

With this short article we want to give you a brief overview and orientation of the Innovation Dojo. Are there any open questions? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Do you want to learn more about the facilitation principles behind innovation dojo? Check out this article!

We want to shout out a big THANK YOU to the RBI Organisation Innovation Team, especially to Nicole Stroj & Christina Pfeiler. And to Silvia Handler & Sarina Herold of the Innovation Office at WU Wien. Without you, this format wouldn’t exist.


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