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10 Innovation-Centric Workshops to Unlock Employee Potential

Nurturing innovation stands as a critical imperative for maintaining a competitive edge. One well-established avenue for igniting creativity and innovation within an organization is hosting workshops. Research underscores the advantages workshops can offer, including professional growth, heightened productivity, enhanced employee retention, and improved collaboration. In fact, a 2022 study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that a resounding 76% of employees expressed a willingness to stay with their employers who invest in their development through continuous training (SHRM, 2022 Workplace Learning & Development Trends).

Within this insight article, we dive into 10 innovation-centric workshops crafted to kindle ingenuity and propel innovation. Each workshop is presented with instructions and real-world examples to illustrate their potential transformative impact. Continue reading for workshops that could transform your organization into a thriving epicenter of innovation.

This article was originally published on Arete Coach and has been re-written and approved for placement by Arete Coach on ePraxis. Scroll to continue reading or click here to read the original article.

Forced Connections

This exercise encourages participants to think creatively by combining unrelated ideas to form a new concept. It can stimulate innovative thinking and potentially lead to unique solutions or products.


  1. Gather your team and explain the concept of forced connections.

  2. Present two unrelated concepts to the team.

  3. Ask the team to come up with ideas that connect these two concepts.

  4. Discuss these ideas as a group and explore their potential.


  • Industry: Software Development

  • Personnel: Software Engineers

  • Prompt: Connect “Artificial Intelligence” and “Agriculture”

  • Response: Develop an AI system that can predict crop yields based on weather patterns and soil conditions.

30 Circles Exercise

This creativity exercise challenges participants to transform 30 blank circles into as many different drawings as possible. It encourages divergent thinking and helps to overcome the fear of making mistakes during the creative process.


  1. Distribute a piece of paper with 30 blank circles to each participant.

  2. Set a time limit (e.g., 3 minutes) and ask participants to transform as many circles as they can into different drawings.

  3. After the time is up, have participants share their drawings and discuss.


  • Industry: Advertising

  • Personnel: Creative Designers

  • Prompt: Transform the circles into as many different concepts related to “Sustainability”

  • Response: Solar panels, wind turbines, recycling symbols, bicycles, etc.


This is a well-known technique where a group collaboratively generates a list of ideas to solve a specific problem. The key is to encourage free thinking and withhold criticism during the session.


  1. Define the problem or topic clearly.

  2. Encourage participants to freely share their ideas without any criticism.

  3. Record all ideas for later review and discussion.


  • Industry: E-commerce

  • Personnel: Marketing Team

  • Prompt: How can we improve the online shopping experience for our customers?

  • Response: Introduce a virtual fitting room, offer personalized recommendations, improve website loading speed, etc.


This is similar to brainstorming, but instead of vocalizing ideas, individuals write them down and pass them onto others who add their own ideas. This can be particularly useful for those who are more introverted or feel less comfortable speaking in a group setting.


  1. Distribute paper and pens to each participant.

  2. Set a topic and ask participants to write down their ideas.

  3. After a set time, have participants pass their papers to the person next to them who will add their own ideas.


  • Industry: Healthcare

  • Personnel: Healthcare Providers

  • Prompt: How can we improve patient care?

  • Response: Implement telemedicine services, improve appointment scheduling system, offer health education workshops, etc.

Challenge assumptions

This activity involves questioning existing assumptions about the work or industry. By challenging the status quo, employees can uncover new ways of doing things and drive innovation.


  1. List all assumptions related to your work or industry.

  2. Challenge each assumption by asking “Why?” and “What if?”.

  3. Discuss how challenging these assumptions could lead to innovative ideas.


  1. Industry: Publishing

  2. Personnel: Editors and Writers

  3. Prompt: What assumptions do we have about our readers?

  4. Response: Readers prefer print books over e-books. Challenge this assumption by exploring the potential of digital platforms.

Reverse brainstorm

This technique involves asking participants to think about how they could cause the problem they’re trying to solve. This can often lead to unique insights and innovative solutions.


  1. Clearly define the problem you want to solve.

  2. Instead of asking how to solve the problem, ask how you could cause it.

  3. Reverse or negate these ‘causes’ to find potential solutions.


  • Industry: Hospitality

  • Personnel: Hotel Managers

  • Prompt: How could we make our hotel the worst in the city?

  • Response: Poor customer service, dirty rooms, overpriced services. Reverse these to identify areas for improvement.

Role play

Encourage employees to step into the shoes of customers or other stakeholders. This can help them understand different perspectives and come up with innovative ideas that meet diverse needs.


  1. Define different roles related to your product or service (e.g., customer, supplier).

  2. Have participants act out these roles in various scenarios.

  3. Discuss insights gained from these role-playing exercises.


  • Industry: Telecommunications

  • Personnel: Customer Service Representatives

  • Prompt: Act out a scenario where a customer is having issues with their internet connection.

  • Response: This can lead to insights on how to improve customer service training and protocols.

Prototype building

Provide materials for employees to create physical prototypes of their ideas. This hands-on approach can stimulate creativity and make abstract ideas more tangible.


  1. Provide materials (e.g., paper, pens, scissors, glue).

  2. Ask participants to build a physical prototype of their idea.

  3. Have participants present their prototypes and explain their ideas.


  • Industry: Manufacturing

  • Personnel: Product Designers

  • Prompt: Build a prototype of a new ergonomic chair design.

  • Response: This can lead to a better understanding of the product’s feasibility and potential improvements.

Cross-industry inspiration

Look at how problems are solved in other industries and whether these solutions can be adapted. This can lead to innovative ideas that may not have been considered otherwise.


  1. Choose an industry different from yours.

  2. Research how this industry solves similar problems or meets similar needs.

  3. Discuss how these solutions could be adapted to your industry.


  • Industry: Banking

  • Personnel: Bank Executives

  • Prompt: How does the gaming industry keep players engaged?

  • Response: Use of rewards and leveling systems. This could inspire a new savings program where customers earn rewards for saving money.

Expert guest workshops

Invite experts from different fields to conduct workshops. Exposure to different disciplines and ways of thinking can spark new ideas and foster a culture of continuous learning and innovation.


  1. Identify experts in different fields who could provide valuable insights.

  2. Invite these experts to conduct workshops on their areas of expertise.

  3. Encourage participants to ask questions and discuss how these new insights could be applied.


  • Industry: Non-profit

  • Personnel: Program Coordinators

  • Prompt (given by expert): How to effectively use social media for fundraising.

  • Response: This can lead to new strategies for online fundraising campaigns.


Effective leadership and management are pivotal in cultivating an environment conducive to innovation. Leaders bear the responsibility of promoting creative thought processes, recognizing innovative endeavors, and ensuring the implementation of valuable ideas. Furthermore, a well-defined innovation strategy plays a vital role in this ecosystem by providing clear direction and aiding in resource allocation for innovation projects. It ensures that all innovative initiatives align harmoniously with the company's overarching objectives and core values. In parallel, fostering a culture that encourages experimentation and views failures as invaluable opportunities for growth can lead to groundbreaking innovations.

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