Case Study – Training and coaching to embed LEAN INNOVATION


The Company

University of Otago in conjunction with Otago Polytechnic – New Zealand.

The Business Problem

The University of Otago, New Zealand’s premier university teamed up with next door Otago Polytechnic to pilot a project looking at more applied ways of learning.  The key challenge was that graduates although “stuffed full of knowledge” struggled to apply that knowledge in a particularly practical way.  In simple terms the “what” could be learnt in traditional ways, but the “how” needed a more hands-on and experiential approach to help it sink in.

The Solution

We designed a course that lasted 4 weeks for 12 part time delegates - divided into 3 teams. The teams were set the task of identifying a customer problem, its root cause and then delivering a solution within the theme “Helping an Aging Population”. We presented short modules covering the Business Model Canvas and other material from the Master of Entrepreneurship course and then left the teams to work on their problems and present back their ideas.  The initial presentations tended to be very theoretical and insufficiently detailed to really address the problem so the teams were given an ‘advisory’ style of coaching and shown appropriate problem solving tools to delve into the meat of their particular problem.  The next round of presentations were more detailed, but lacked conviction and confidence.  Coaching was adjusted towards a more ‘facilitating’ style and participants were surprised by how much they actually knew.  During the next round of presentations, coaches noted that the quality of the teams’ thinking was not well represented in their presentation so the final round of coaching addressed presentation skills as well as honing the solution.  The final round of presentations included in the audience senior management and invited practitioners who had not been previously involved in the sessions and were impressed by the depth of insight and the credibility of the solutions presented.  Read how the winner won

The Benefits

The delegates were effusive in their praise of the course gaining both confidence and credibiilty. By applying the tools, they understood them far better than merely regurgitating theory.  They also recognised the importance for innovative solutions of succinct communication both as a means of focusing on the key essentials and engaging the enthusiasm of key stakeholders.  The Director of Innovative Learning at the Polytechnic subsequently participated in a number of other facilitated learning sessions that we set up.  See how we have incorprated the learning into our own methodology

Banner image © Mark Neild 2013  Dolphin in Bay of islands New Zealand taken shortly before we went swimming with them.