InnovateK12 Newsletter: September 19, 2019
Happy New Year, InnovateK12 Friends!
Eric Schneider, President & Co-Founder - InnovateK12

On your mark, get set, INNOVATE!!

The InnovateK12 network is off and running in the 2019-20 school year! Thanks for being a part of this exciting movement. As always, our newsletter is filled with great updates and thought-leadership around K-12 crowd-based innovation, but here are just a few high-level short shots...

July Summit: A big “thank you” to everyone for a fantastic summit in July. It was crazy-hot in Minneapolis and the “campfire keynote” was a hilarious twist, but mostly it was exciting to hear so many heart-felt testimonials of crowd-driven innovation and human-centered design at work. And it was equally exciting to welcome so many new members to the network! There is no doubt that InnovateK12 members are making a difference in their schools and districts. Thank you for your leadership!

Better Support in 2019-20: As the InnovateK12 team kicks off the 2019-20 school year, both Kristin and I have taken inspiration from Mahatma Ghandi’s call to action: Be the change you wish to see in the world . We have each left our district-level leadership roles so that we can dedicate ourselves to supporting the amazing network of innovative school leaders at InnovateK12. You can expect a level of support and service from us that just wasn’t possible the past two years. Super exciting!

Customize Your Experience: One of the most important goals that we have for the InnovateK12 network in 2019-20 is to ensure that our toolkit is customized for each of our members in a way that captures exactly where you are on this journey...and where you want to go. Every aspect of the InnovateK12 toolkit can be customized and designed to align with your district’s mission/vision or strategic plan...or it can be used to help your district to build its strategic plan. Regardless of how you customize the tools, it's our belief that you will be able to reach levels of engagement and empowerment that will elevate your leadership efforts.

Feeling Overwhelmed?: If your plate is still full from last year’s innovation event, try using the platform to help advance those projects. The most important aspect of this work is to give your stakeholders a meaningful voice in solving problems, so let us help you design an experience that keeps you focused on growing your culture of innovation - without feeling overwhelmed. That is the power of a strong network! And if you feel as though your school or district would benefit from having a member of the InnovateK12 team on the ground, co-leading sessions or workshops, we can offer that level of support as well. 

Grow Your Culture: At InnovateK12, our goal is not only to grow the InnovateK12 network so that our “crowd” is bigger and better than ever before, we also want to help you deepen your InnovateK12 experience and organizational culture so that your school or district can enjoy the benefits that come with a long-term commitment to core 21st century leadership values like genuine stakeholder engagement, distributed leadership, and front-line empowerment. 

Crazy-Cool Upgrades: There are some exciting improvements coming your way from the team at InnovateK12 in 2019-20 (see “ Cohort Meeting Schedule ” and Single Sign On Update below), so keep an eye on this newsletter to learn more about how to make the most out of your membership. Best wishes to all of you as we head into the “innovation event” season! And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact either of us directly at or .

Innovation Events Launching in September and October
The InnovateK12 team has been BUSY working with member districts in the last few weeks getting events ready to go for staff, students and community members! Congratulations to InnovateK12 members who have worked hard and are ready to launch their event in September or October!
Cohort Meeting Schedule
One of the most important benefits of membership in the InnovateK12 network is the access that you have to other innovative leaders engaged in similar work. Leading innovation can be a lonely assignment, so please take advantage of this benefit. Although it’s definitely hard to recreate the passion and excitement that happens during our networking event in July, the InnovateK12 team is committed to providing opportunities throughout the course of the year for you to connect with the InnovateK12 team and colleagues to help you move forward or get unstuck.

Support Calls - We will host regular calls (via Zoom) that will focus on specific strategies for a successful innovation year. Topics will include: running the innovation challenge, leading the design workshop, lean prototyping, project implementation, story telling and celebrating. See the schedule below and subscribe to our calendar for regular updates ( web link , ical link ). Check out our upcoming topics!

  • FriSept20 at 12:00p CST and WedSept25 at 11:00a CST - Spigit software, login process (SSO and non-SSO), event timeline, idea submission form, challenge dashboard

  • FriSept27 at 12:00p CST and WedOct2 at 11:00a CST - marketing and communication before, during and after your event, recommended tools, templates and examples provided

We’ll take good notes and will send them out to all at the end of each day. In addition, we will build webcasts that summarize the key takeaways from each video call and send out the links to those as well.

Quarterly Meetups - We will continue to host face-to-face cohort events in the Minneapolis/St.Paul area based on the high number of members who are located in that market (October, January, and May - dates and location TBD), but we are looking forward to the opportunity to branch out and start hosting regional events in other markets as well. That is an important goal for the future, so share your story with schools and districts in your part of the country so that you can host a regional event soon!
Single Sign On (SSO) Update
Thank you for your patience with the work we are doing this week to configure SSO for our member districts. We know that Single Sign On will minimize barriers for your staff and therefore increase participation and engagement in your online innovation challenge. All districts who will be implementing SSO have received instructions from the InnovateK12 team or have been connected directly with the SSO team at Spigit. If you have any questions about this, please email Kristin .
KIFF: Keep It Fun, Friends!
It’s fall, and you know what that means... the kids are back in school, the leaves are changing color, and InnovateK12 districts are in “launch” mode! 

The most exciting part of the InnovateK12 experience is the crowd-based event that our members host in the fall season. One of the key challenges related to the fall event is based on the fact that front-line staff are still pretty focused on start-of-year priorities. In other words, they’re busy!

To overcome this challenge, we encourage members to have some fun with their launch messaging. Front-line staff appreciate a little humor in their busy lives, and this approach helps draw staff into the event. No one hits the mark on staff engagement better than the team at Pike County (GA). Not only did Superintendent Mike Duncan convince local store owners to encourage shoppers to “Round Up for Pirate Nation Innovation,” he also created a system where teachers who participated in Pirate Nation’s innovation event could earn additional privileges like wearing jeans on days other than Friday. Sound crazy? Pike County led the network in staff participation last year.

One of our newest cohort members, High Desert Education Service District , has created a fun video introducing their innovation event, "ThinkUp!" This video provides context for the event and introduces the process in a fun and inviting way (especially the bloopers at the end!). Check it out below, along with some other introductory videos from years past!

Now is a great time to sit down with your team and discuss strategies for engaging your crowd. If you need help, let us know and we can set up a call.
The Idea Dock
Prior-Lake Savage Schools
Thought Luck Challenge
Austin Public Schools
Acceleration Fund
Jeffco Public Schools
Thought Leadership in Innovation
As an educator, do you ever feel disconnected from the “real world”? Well, it happens to the best of us. That’s why it’s important to take a moment and reflect on the fact that we are preparing our students for a world that is very different from the one that we inherited. Innovation, for example, was hardly a “thing” twenty years ago. But in today’s workplace, it is everywhere. And our graduates need to be prepared for that expectation. But how?

Here at InnovateK12, we value the opportunity to find connections between our innovation efforts in schools and the innovation efforts of those in other industries. In many cases, we find that we aren’t so different after all and that we can gain valuable insight from studying the efforts of the innovation teams at corporations like US Bank, Target, 3M, or General Mills.

In a March 2019 blog post from Rob Hoehn (Co-Founder and CEO of IdeaScale) titled The State of Crowdsourced Innovation in 2019 , we can see the parallels between our work at InnovateK12 and Rob’s efforts to support innovation in a range of other industries. As we see the science of innovation’s impact on today’s workplace, it is reassuring to know that InnovateK12 members are graduating students who have had unique access to these methods - an advantage that they can take with them regardless of their chosen path. Enjoy!
The State of Crowdsourced Innovation in 2019

Looking to the crowd for knowledge isn’t a new concept. The Sydney Opera House was the result of an open call for designs to a global community (to which 233 people submitted ideas) and the now-iconic building was selected from among them...

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