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Entrepreneurial Capacity-building for Sport


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


Introduction to design thinkingClick to read  

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 processClick to read  

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 BrainstormingClick to read  

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.



RULES for BrainstormingClick to read  

1. Defer judgement. You never know where a good idea is going to come from. The key is to make everyone feel like they can say the idea on their mind and allow others to build on it.

2. Encourage wild ideas. Wild ideas can often give rise to creative leaps. In thinking about ideas that are wacky or ‘out-there’ we tend to think about what we really want without the constraints of technology or materials.

3. Build on the ideas of others. Being positive and building on the ideas of others takes some skill. In conversation, we try to use “and” instead of “but.”

4. Stay focused on the topic. Try to keep the discussion on target, otherwise you can diverge beyond the scope of what you are trying to design for.

5. One conversation at a time. Your team is far more likely to build on an idea and make a creative leap if everyone is paying full attention to whoever is sharing a new idea.

6. Be visual. In live brainstorms write down on sticky notes and then put them on a wall. Nothing gets an idea across faster than drawing it.

7. Go for quantity. Aim for as many new ideas as possible. In a good session, up to 100 ideas are generated in 60 minutes. Crank the ideas out quickly and build on the best ones.

There are many variations on how to run a brainstorming, using flipcharts, sticky notes, using techniques such as “brainwriting”, “alphabet”, “grid” or “circle brainstorming”.

For brainstorming methods, go to



STEPS for BrainstormingClick to read  

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)


What is Brainwriting?Click to read  

Like brainstorming, brainwriting is a great way to share new ideas, encourage creativity and develop innoative ideas. It was designed by German marketing expert Bernd Rochback in 1969. Shy or intoverted team members may be reluctant to speak up in grop brainstorming session. Brainwriting overcomes these limitations by allowing them to write down teir ideas instead, giving everyone an equal opportunity to participate. It also encourages people to take more time to formulate their thoughts, and enables them to develot ideas offered up by others.

6-3-5 BrainwritingClick to read  

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.