By Anne M. Apking, CPT

Memorable. Insightful. Impactful. Wouldn’t it be great if these were the adjectives that your learners used to describe their instructional experiences? Well, they can be. Training does not need to be painful and boring, and it does not have to turn into “ed-u-tainment” to grab and keep the attention of our learners.

What can instructional designers learn and apply from great innovative and creative thinkers like Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, and Leonardo da Vinci? Turns out, we can learn plenty. The crafts of these prestigious gentlemen vary greatly; and from the process of instructional design, there are many aspects of their creative approaches that can and do work with great success in the design of learning. I have found that the methods, tools, and concepts they routinely apply work just as effectively in the design of learning and instruction.

Over the past three years, I have had the opportunity to work with Steelcase Inc. to participate in deep research in the areas of innovation, creativity, and design thinking to create a learning curriculum for Steelcase employees globally. The goal of this curriculum is to enable Steelcase employees to leverage a Critical Thinking Model to tackle wicked business challenges and create game-changing, innovative solutions. During the course of this effort, it became obvious that the same design thinking tools used by some of the world’s most creative thinkers could be leveraged to improve the impact of learning and instructional initiatives.

This session will connect the disparate domains of instructional design with design thinking so that developers of learning can blend the “science” with the “art” to guarantee that learning sticks, is remembered, and changes performance. Specifically this session is aimed at helping attendees:

  • Determine their innovative strengths that can be leveraged in the design of learning
  • Identify tools that design thinkers use to ensure learning both “wows” and “works”
  • Recognize strategies that make learning “sticky” and “memorable”
  • Reflect on the concepts introduced during this session and determine how they can be applied to their own instructional design challenges

To accomplish these objectives, attendees of this session will explore five fundamental principles as well as numerous design thinking concepts, such as:

  • Dreamers, Incrementalists, and Doers
  • Napkin Pitch
  • Prototypes and Little Bets
  • Blue Flame
  • Easy to…

I hope that you will join me at the ISPI Conference in Reno in April 2013 and discover the innovative and creative instructional designer within you.

AnneApkingAnne Apking, CPT, has invested nearly 30 years working with clients in the creation and implementation of broad-based performance improvement interventions. She has made over 20 presentations at ISPI conferences, and received numerous local and national ISPI awards.

To learn more about this and other educational sessions at THE Performance Improvement Conference 2013 in Reno, NV, April 14-17, please go to Register today at!