How do YOU innovate?

Someone recently asked me, “How do you innovate at Innovative Learning Group?”

It’s a simple question but real food for thought. Admittedly, I did not have an immediate answer. That’s not good when you work at ILG, right?

However, as a process thinker who likes to reflect, I took the question to heart and started by refreshing myself on the definition.

innovate verb | | \’i-nɘ-vat\ | def: to do something in a new way; to have new ideas about how something can be done; make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.

Then, as I often get by with a little help from my friends, I asked my colleagues how they innovate at ILG, and they had answers!


“Innovation for me is about challenging assumptions. I look at things that are in place and consider the reasons why they are how they are. I think if you understand the structures that are propping up the status quo, it allows you to find new ways of replacing those structures … many of which have long outlived their original useful purpose.”

~ Jim Naughton, Senior Consultant


“I don’t think innovation has to be about just the big things. Making changes to even the smallest of things (like how I end my emails, when/how often I check emails, etc.) can make a positive difference. Also, moving to a different ‘space’ to work can often get me thinking in different ways.”

~ Peggy Visser, Project Manager


 “Innovation happens at a number of levels and points in the development process. It could be innovation about the macro solution, program creative treatment (including theme), look-and-feel of the deliverables (screen and/or page layout), instructional strategies/practice activities, writing style, or individual graphics. It’s good to ask the client what he/she means when saying, ‘innovation’.”

~ Lisa Toenniges, CEO


Finally, I looked to the ILG website to see how we officially answer this question and found the following:

Why ILG? … We are focused on innovation, and continually seek out new and better ways to maximize potential, increase efficiency, raise satisfaction, and reinforce corporate culture.

Armed with my new perspectives, I posed the original question to myself, “Laura, how do you innovate at Innovative Learning Group?” A few examples came to mind:

  • As a project manager, my job is to lead the team along the guardrails of the project charter, holding everyone accountable for quality, budget, and time. However, this should not prevent us from innovating, so I stay open to ideas along the way. If the team really loves the suggested ideas, then let’s change course … borrowing from another part of the project or adding to the scope, of course.
  • I try to ask more questions, such as:
    • Who needs to review this, and can we involve them earlier in the process to make sure their voices are heard?
    • Well, this is our tried-and-true recommendation but what else are you seeing in the industry that we can consider?
    • What’s the coolest thing you heard or saw today?
  • I think of Peggy’s answer and try to make changes to the ‘smaller things’. I go sit by a window. I check my emotional tone. I get up and go talk to someone instead of sticking in analysis paralysis. The options to make small changes are endless.

I hope this has armed you with some new perspectives … so I have to ask, “How do YOU innovate?”

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