Members Recommend Best Options for Online Innovation Training

By Scott Kirsner |  October 25, 2016

One of our members in the financial services industry had a question recently about delivering online innovation education to a global workforce. She was considering both pre-recorded online courses as well as vendors who could conduct live virtual training.

“We are primarily targeting training and learning resources for our broad, general employee population,” she wrote, “but also looking at leader-level content as well.”

Here are the options we’ve heard about (so far) from other members. Feel free to post a comment below, or drop us an e-mail. (Note: As with all of our research efforts to gather information on behalf of InnoLead members, sponsors had no involvement with this project.)


• Design firm IDEO offers several online courses through IDEO U (most priced at $399), including “Insights for Innovation,” which focuses on gathering the insights that fuel innovation; “Storytelling for Influence”; “Leading for Creativity”; and “From Ideas to Action,” about prototyping and iterating.

• Culturevate offers training and a library of resources, templates, and book summaries for participants.

• Futurethink offers on-demand innovation training resources, including podcasts, videos, and PDF worksheets.

• Innovator’s Accelerator provides access to webinars from leading innovation thinkers like Clay Christensen of Harvard Business School and Hal Gregersen of the MIT Leadership Center. The Accelerator is part of the Apollo Education Group.

• HBX, the online learning arm of Harvard Business School, offers a course in “Disruptive Strategy” created by Clay Christensen. Course is delivered over six weeks, and priced at $1500.

• Conteneo offers online courses in its “Innovation Games” approach to improving customer understanding.

• Udacity offers a free course on “How to Build a Startup” that introduces participants to the Customer Development Process and other principles of lean methodology.

• The University of Maryland offers a set of five courses through Coursera (starting at $49 each) called “Develop and Launch Innovations within Corporations,” focusing on topics like identifying opportunities, developing the business model, and getting others within the organization to think more entrepreneurially.

• A member at a large consumer packaged goods company told us that they’ve used The Rise Group “to custom design some e-learning/webinar modules for us, to supplement the face-to-face course we’ve designed with them for innovation practitioners. We didn’t look too hard at outside on line training, as we wanted this customized to our [particular] approach and tool kit.”

Comments From Members

“I feel strongly that hands-on workshops are preferable for deploying impactful long-lasting innovation culture change…

I reviewed Innovator’s Accelerator during their first design iteration, and all of us on the pilot team found it lacking… (The online facilitators/professors who were supposed to provide feedback and guidance…engaged little or not at all and also added little to the experience.) I would not recommend this to organizations who already do not have plenty of internal experienced innovation leaders/intrapreneurs and coaches. (And it was quite expensive, given the content is fairly basic and available in a couple of business books you can buy, or find a summary of for free in online postings/articles.)

Futurethink tools are promising. I have woven some of their information into my workshop designs in the past. Sounds like they could facilitate hands-on workshops if the online toolboxes didn’t ‘take.’

I think if you have dedicated internal innovation managers/leaders who are responsible for understanding and vetting the online resources and tools, as well as sustaining application of the innovation tools and methods beyond the initial online training experience, Futurethink and Culturevate are good resources.

I don’t believe you can have meaningful change and impact in the organization by simply telling everyone to take an online training course or read an article. Practical application to their specific projects and tasks in real-time is a must for people to change how they approach their day-to-day work.”

— Innovation program leader at a large manufacturer

“We looked at Culturevate and Innovator’s Accelerator too, but we found them more theoretical than practical and that wasn’t what we were aiming for.”

— Innovation VP at a major insurer

“Our curriculum does have external, non-customized online offerings, specifically the IDEO online courses and Steve Blank’s Lean Launch Pad class on Udacity. Of the [three online courses our member was initially considering — Futurethink, Culturevate, and Innovator’s Accelerator], I think Innovator’s Accelerator is the best.”

— Innovation center head, food producer

“We had…piloted an online corporate MOOC with the Apollo Education Group (Innovator’s Accelerator) last year. The content was good, but the employees could not find the time to complete the work, and preferred a format where they could engage with each other.”

— Learning and training leader, financial services firm