Innovation skills - how to harness innovation in sports to business?


Innovation skills - how to harness innovation in sports to business?

Innovation skills, design thinking, ideas, creativity



After studying this module, you will understand the basics of innovations and the design thinking process. You will recognise terms related to innovations and gain knowledge of idea generation/problem-solving methods.
For enhanced learning, you can possess information helping to create new value for existing business (for example using blue sea strategy).

Athletes often have to be innovative, both in training and in competition. Innovation skills are an important part of sports. The same skills are a vital part of business, when planning your business and thinking about competitive advantage. A footballer thinks about how to beat the goalkeeper and an entrepreneur thinks about how to find a business idea that will put him ahead of the competitors. Now it’s time to harness those innovations skills and implement them in business planning. Be innovative!

This module provides an introduction to design thinking, idea generation methods and in addition a short trip to Blue Ocean Strategy. The information delivered in this module is just the tip of the iceberg and it should encourage students to gain additional information about this topic.

Innovation skills are essential for entrepreneurs and for those planning to start their own businesses. Entrepreneurs have to be able to keep up with the changes in the market and the operating environment. For example, those entrepreneurs, who were able to innovate new products and services during the COVID-19 pandemic, have had the best chance to survive from the rapid changes. Crisis sometimes means new opportunities.

Understanding the design thinking process and the ability to implement it to own business' development is one of the basic skills of an entrepreneur. This module describes the process behind design thinking and helps students to understand it’s non-linear nature.

A couple of idea generation methods are introduced as well. Blue Oceans Strategy is considered to be a very important “tool” for an entrepreneur seeking new ways to avoid unnecessary and frustrating competition. In this module, the students produce their own four actions framework to develop current or future business.

“The only sure way to avoid making mistakes is to have no new ideas.” - Albert Einstein

 Contents in bullet points
• Design thinking process
• Idea generation methods
• Blue ocean strategy


 INNOVATION SKILLS - how to harness innovation in sports to business?


  Introduction to design thinking

Design thinking is a process for solving problems by prioritizing the consumer’s needs above all else. It relies on observing, with empathy, how people interact with their environments, and employs an iterative, hands-on approach to creating innovative solutions.

Design thinking is “human-centered,” which means that it uses evidence of how consumers (humans) actually engage with a product or service, rather than how someone else or an organization thinks they will engage with it. To be truly human-centered, designers watch how people use a product or service and continue to refine the product or service in order to improve the consumer’s experience. This is the “iterative” part of design thinking. It favors moving quickly to get prototypes out to test, rather than endless research or rumination.

In contrast to traditional problem-solving, which is a linear process of identifying a problem and then brainstorming solutions, design thinking only works if it is iterative. It is less of a means to get to a single solution, and more of a way to continuously evolve your thinking and respond to consumer needs.


  Design Thinking process

1. Take the users’ perspective and empathise with the problem they experience. 

2. Define the problem in detail by aggregating the available dispersed information.

3. Brainstorm various possible solutions for the problem by combining imaginative insights and generate the broadest possible range of ideas.

4. Prototype the solution to identify new paths and highlight strengths and weaknesses.

5. Test the prototype by soliciting feedback from the final users

(EntreComp Playbook, p 26)

Idea generation methods

  Introduction to Brainstorming

Brainstorming is about generating lots of ideas, about collaboration and openness to wild solutions. Avoid discussions of why ideas may not work. This behaviour kills creativity and shifts the group mindset from a generative one to a critical one. The only way to get to good ideas is to have many to choose from. There are many variations on how to run a brainstorming, using flipcharts, sticky notes, using techniques such as “brainwriting”, “alphabet”, “grid” or “circle brainstorming”. Below you find a set of instruction for guiding a successful brainstorming.



  STEPS for Brainstorming

1. Setup

• Frame a question to guide your group into thinking about the issue you want to address

• Illustrate the brainstorming rules, to start with the right mindset

2. Facilitate

• Start with heads-down individual brainstorming.

• Share ideas as a group and build on each other’s concepts.

3. Follow-up

• Harvest the ideas generated to keep track of them

       • Develop the most promising ideas into a concept to validate

(EntreComp Playbook, p 64-65)


  6-3-5 Brainwriting

A popular and lively form of brainwriting is known as 6-3-5. During a 6-3-5 session, brainwriting exercises are split into several rounds. In each round, six people write down three ideas each within five minutes.

After the first round, everyone swaps their piece of paper with someone else, reads what's on it, and then writes down three more ideas. These can be new ideas, or build on ideas that have already been shared.

After six rounds, the pieces of paper are collected, and all the suggested ideas are discussed and next steps agreed.

Although this example uses six people, you can invite any number of people to your brainwriting session. Other details can also be adapted to suit your needs, including the number of rounds and the amount of time given for each one. But most people find that aiming for three ideas in each round brings the best results.