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October 2018
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TD Magazine

To Be an Innovator

The Change Maker's Playbook: How to Seek, Seed and Scale Innovation in Any Company

By Amy J. Radin
City Point Press, 272 pp., $24.95

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As performance improvement professionals, we make systems flow better by introducing learning solutions or new ways of working tailored to our audience's needs. Occasionally, this mission requires us to advocate for great change. This lets us solve novel problems, help our organizations stay competitive, and scale solutions for a global audience.

In The Change Maker's Playbook, Radin provides a framework for accomplishing our mission. Her playbook offers key strategies for change makers to create innovative products and bring them into the target market. She distills her own experience developing innovative products, and that of several colleagues, to present real-world stories by change makers and lessons taught by those stories.

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Although L&D professionals are change makers in their companies, we are not Radin's target audience. Those desiring a checklist of detailed, ready-to-implement talent development tactics will be disappointed. However, this resource is an excellent crash course in a product's life cycle and may be valuable in developing business acumen and an appreciation for our role in the bigger picture. Seasoned L&D practitioners also will be able to draw parallels between the phases of a product's inception, development, and launch with performance improvement methodologies such as the ADDIE model; rapid prototyping with the Successive Approximation Model; and good, old-fashioned job shadowing during needs analysis.

Also useful are the tips from experienced innovation leaders. For example, Geoff Chellis—the "master launcher" and president of Expedia Consulting Group—outlines his top eight recommendations for a successful product launch. One is anticipating uncertainty, for which Chellis recommends meeting frequently to "pressure check" where the launch may fail and encouraging teams to raise issues before solving them, because a correction in one area may cause downstream complications. It may be easy to label such a recommendation as common sense, but applying this strategy is difficult.

The Change Maker's Playbook reminds us not to kid ourselves about how we define success; if we allow hurdles to prevent us from fulfilling our core mission to deliver a solution to the audience in need, we are not change makers or innovators.

About the Author
Chelsea Logan is an instructional designer at Leica Biosystems.
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