Case Study: Kromatic Innovation Coach Training
As the Head of Profession for Entrepreneurship within the United Kingdom Civil Service, Katie Careless was coordinating dozens of people across multiple departments who together wanted to inspire and enable innovation throughout the sprawling government. Katie had developed an informal network of innovation-minded colleagues who were coaching and training in lean startup methodologies within their own departments, but they needed some outside coaching to coordinate a more formal network of innovators who could train their teams to build their own innovation ecosystems.
After undergoing a rigorous Kromatic workshop tailor-made to their needs, Katie’s innovation network adopted an entirely fresh Innovation Coach Training program that taught the coaches who were helping teams to work with an innovation mindset. As the confidence and competence of the coaches grew, they nurtured innovation ecosystems within their own departments, identifying and mitigating risks, practicing coaching scenarios, and scaling their work for greater impact. Katie’s feedback loop for coach development narrowed from 6-month cycles to 1-month sprints. This helped her improve and accelerate her coach development pipeline so she could provide a better coaching service, helping teams to accomplish their innovation goals.
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Departments within the United Kingdom Civil Service wanted to transform the mindset of their organizations to be more agile and responsive to the increasing pace of global change in which they operated. With thousands of employees scattered across different organisations, doing individual workshops for every team wasn’t feasible. They wanted to create a system for continuous innovation and improvement, and this lack of an agile mindset — the critical limiting factor in their department — was holding them back.
“We had been providing innovation methodologies training for a while, but our people had gotten a bit too fixated on specific tools like a particular canvas or customer discovery interviews,” says Katie. “We needed them to realize that using a test card is not the only way to plan an experiment. Using the business model canvas is not the only way to do business model thinking or mission model thinking. So we began shifting away from specific tools and towards a principles-based approach. We were trying to teach our teams to separate the tools from the mindset, and try to use different tools much more dynamically as a way to help people to employ the principle.”
Katie had read Kromatic’s Real Startup Book and attended a 3-day Advanced Lean Startup workshop in Paris taught by Kromatic founder Tristan Kromer. Tristan advocated the sort of principles and toolkit approach she needed, where instead of using individual tools, teams would learn to build their own toolboxes and adapt to any situation they encountered.
She also wanted to be able to scale her training across a massive organization, but running one workshop after another could take years and require an endless stream of external consultants. She needed an approach that would scale.
Kromatic worked with Katie to develop a targeted workshop in which every student is not only trained in the agile mindset, but is trained to teach and coach others as well. Kromatic’s “train-the-trainer” approach would teach government trainers from Katie’s network to not only develop their own coaching skills, but to scale a single innovation program across the entire organization.
This approach contrasts with the more typical skill-training method of driving people through the same workshop month after month and year after year. By definition, any workshop on innovation would be obsolete within a few years, so Kromatic workshops are designed for the client to replicate, update, and scale without having to continuously hire outside advisors.
Starting with a core group of 17 students across four departments, Kromatic conducted an intense, two-day workshop, teaching Katie’s cohort how to design their own innovation ecosystems, develop their own trainers, and institute an agile mindset throughout the organization.
Kromatic’s Advanced Lean Startup for Coaches workshop inspired change across Katie’s network, teaching coaches how to help their teams constantly assess and improve their methods through trial, error, and analysis. “My style had been to tell people what the problem was and then they could go fix it,” says Katie. “Kromatic taught me to ask the right questions to get people to see things for themselves.”
By developing government coaches, Katie was able to scale up the impact of her innovation-enabling program. Workshop participants went on to teach their teams to separate their tools from their mindsets, so they could design new experiments, new methodologies, and new frameworks, while staying true to the core principles and always testing and improving their innovation toolkit.
Armed with a fresh set of tools to accompany their principles-based innovation mindset, the new coaches were able to coach their teams in product/market fit storyboarding, designing minimum viable products, business model risk prioritization, stakeholder mapping, and a variety of templates to organize and maintain a thriving innovation ecosystem. The UK Civil Service now has a healthy pipeline of innovation coaches across the division who are developing their skills to help others challenge their assumptions, ask the right questions, and identify hidden problems, making the agency more nimble in its problem-solving and more connected to its fellow government organizations.