Rapid Innovation at the Global Academy


What do you get when you take:

  • 24 aspiring entrepreneurs
  • 24 post-it® pads
  • 6 iPads
  • 1 StormzBox
  • 48 social or environmental challenges
  • 38 product or service ideas
  • 6 prototyped solutions?

You get the Global Academy at Centennial College!

Our session at the Global Academy was a great example of something called “rapid innovation,” a process that combines digital and analog tools, and which can be replicated in business settings focused on a social mission.

The Global Academy is a two-day experiential learning opportunity for students who are interested in social entrepreneurship. An annual event, the latest Global Academy took place in early March 2018.

The forum provides students with the opportunity to LEARN from local social entrepreneurs, CREATE an idea in a rapid innovation session, PITCH that idea to a panel of industry experts and NETWORK with like-minded people. Participants also take a tour of the community to gain first-hand knowledge of how to launch a socially innovative idea.

Creativity is essential for innovation, and NeOlé was pleased to play a role in the CREATE segment of the Global Academy. We engaged entrepreneurial students in a two-hour workshop where we introduced them to the four levels of creativity and innovation, the fundamental skills and guidelines of divergent thinking, and the concept of rapid prototyping.

During the workshop, students quickly brainstormed a long list of social and environmental concerns, a list of people and organizations affected and/or interested in finding a solution, and a wild assortment of ideas for potential solutions to the issues that were closest to their hearts. Working in groups of four, they then prototyped six solutions. Their next steps were to fine-tune those prototypes, gather feedback, make further refinements and pitch to a panel of industry experts.

In facilitating the Global Academy workshop, we combined analog and digital tools. A big thank you goes out to Stormz for donating the licenses and on-site technology that made this event possible. The use of digital tools such as Stormz maximizes engagement. It’s neat to see how many more ideas people can come up with when they are typing on a keyboard or touchscreen rather than writing on post-it notes.

Over the years we have figured out how to get people to experience what flexibility and originality is all about, and to become motivated to flex their creative thinking muscles. Everyone has those muscles, but few people know how to exercise them. During workshops and other events, we don’t need to give participants a lecture to let them experience a big “AHA” moment; we just need to give them a playful exercise followed by a facilitated debrief of the exercise! They realize that they CAN be creative problem solvers, and in fact, they already are. They just have to exercise their creative thinking muscles with a little more frequency. Now that they know how to use those muscles, they can no longer use the excuse, “I am just not creative.”

Creativity is powerful. Creativity IS power. Although the two-hour timeframe was very concentrated, we are excited about the format. We think that social entrepreneurs, businesses with a social mission and community groups could really benefit from a quick and intense experience like this. Participants learn creative thinking skills that empower them to find solutions to almost any challenge they might face at work, at home or out and about. Contact NeOlé to discuss how we can bring a rapid innovation workshop to your group.

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"NeOle's virtual facilitation services were an eye-opening experience for our globally-dispersed organization. The level of engagement and productive work that we accomplished rapidly turned skeptics into rabid fans, which is why we continue to hire Neolé." - J.Vehar, VP Products, Dale Carnegie & Associates
"I have had the pleasure of working with NeOlé in a number of settings over the past de​cade. Their creative and collaborative approach to training, group facilitation and problem solving greatly influenced the work we did with frontline workers across Ontario. I have adopted a number of their strategies into my own work, and never hesitate to call on NeOle to lead a session at our annual event." - P.Cross, Legal Director, Luke's Place
“I loved the use of the interactive technology for real-time engagement. And the facilitators were wonderful, intuitive, intelligent, able to manage group ebs/flows and adjust accordingly.” - Participant in a 3-day training on Leading Innovation

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Sol Santos-Pyne Chief Innovator and Prototype Evaluator. He is always ready to help design, paint, cut and install. Sol will show you what’s possible and will also try the impossible. He is the bravest monkey of all.

Ayla Larzabal Zavitz Artist-in-Residence and Director of the Safety Patrol. She makes sure that everyone is following the rules and having fun at the same time. She is the time-keeper and turn-taking monitor. She helps paint the wood for the monkey bars and will give you great advice on the best accessories.

Beto Santos-Pyne Video Producer and Editor as well as a Reliable Helper during heavy installations. When he is not building intricate systems in Minecraft he is the top ranking swinger on the monkey bars. 

Mateo Larzabal Zavitz is our Media Relations Expert and Installation Helper. Mateo knows what’s cool and what’s not cool. He helps us maintain a realistic outlook on the world and stay up to date on the latest movies and video games.

Matias Larzabal Designer and Lead Installer. Matias has more than 20 years of experience working in construction, 14 years of experience as a dad, 11 years of experience as an uncle, 10 years as a helpful Canadian neighbour and handy-man, and a lifetime of experience as a monkey. Matias is also an artist with a unique upbringing. You can learn more about him and his art on his gallery.

Ginny Santos Monkey Supervisor, Visionary and Managing Director. Ginny is a nutrition coach and entrepreneur who is always looking for ways of involving children in creative thinking and problem solving. You can learn more about Ginny’s other work on NeOle Coaching.

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