ITK’s Origin Story

Image result for superhero origin storyIn today’s episode, we’re telling the Team Toolkit’s Origin Story! No, we weren’t all bitten by radioactive spiders or exposed to gamma rays, although a couple of us are still hoping that will happen eventually.

Team Toolkit actually came together through an innovation interest group stood up by Dan Ward. Our first project was consulting for a start-up interested in tailoring their product for the military. Little did we know where this journey would take us!

While working with the start-up, we found a lot of overlap in the problems and challenges we encounter with our other work. We began to ask how we might help others think and work more like innovators. How might we shift the mindset from solutions to understanding problems, helping to get a job done, and delivering value? We looked across industry and discovered the concept of an innovation toolkit, a collection of methods, tools, and techniques to help individuals kick-start innovation.

One of the more important things we learned during our research is that toolkits 1) require tailoring for your problems and culture and 2) can’t just be tossed over the fence with a “good luck.”

We set out to tailor our toolkit by surveying dozens of toolkits from industry, academia, and government. We took our knowledge of MITRE and our Sponsor’s problems and paired it with our experiences successfully applying these tools across projects and ended up with the initial 24 tools found on our website. (Yes, we used the toolkit to develop the toolkit!)

We began experimenting by offering it up to projects and programs, found some early adopters and champions and it really took off from there. But that’s not the end of the story! We’re constantly gathering feedback from users so that we can further iterate on the toolkit. Our goal is to build a widespread community of practitioners and innovators to keep the toolkit contents fresh and provide a platform for sharing best practices, tips, and success stories. Join us and share your story!

Assembling Your Workshop Kit!

Assembling Your Workshop Kit!

We got an email recently asking what materials the ITK team brings to their workshops. There’s a lot of work that goes into planning and prepping for workshops and most of the time, materials are the very last thing we address. After a few workshops of lugging around canvas bags filled with markers, post-it notes, and pens we decided to better organize our materials into the physical workshop kit you see in this photo.

Across our different workshops and events, here’s what ITK team recommends as the essentials:

  • Tackle or Plastic Organizer box
  • Sharpies (especially black and dark colors)
  • Post-it/Sticky Notes (at least 2 different sizes and 3 different colors)
  • White board markers
  • Pens and/or Pencils
  • Dot stickers for voting
  • Crayons or markers
  • Large 3-M sticky pads (easel mounted)
  • Tape

We also try to bring 11×17 print-outs of what tools we are using or may use during the workshop. For larger group activities, we try to get larger 3’x4’ printout(s). If you can’t get your hands on those, just supplement with the 3-M easel pads. The goal is to make the data and workshop outputs accessible and visible to attendees.

How about you? What sort of materials do you bring to a workshop or session? Send photos of your workshop kits to!

Post by Aileen Laughlin