Welcome to the Showcase of Program Innovation for the University of Wisconsin Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate. This program is a deep dive into innovation that is designed to facilitate groups and individuals within the UW division through the innovation process, having them systematically tackle a real challenge relevant to their unit or role and develop innovative solutions. The process not only helps staff develop innovative solutions to the most vexing challenges, it also helps them develop key innovation skills.

Vice Provost Damon Williams and his Division at UW-Madison are early adopters of this method of learning and doing innovation, and have been instrumental in helping Darin Eich to refine the program. We hope that other universities and organizations can learn from this case study.

Below, you will find the UW-Madison program timeline and examples of the step-by-step innovation process used by Program Innovation. For more information contact Darin (at)



October 2011

➢ Jane Dymond from the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity & Climate attends an innovation workshop conducted by Darin Eich at UW and shares that her Division is interested in focusing deeply on innovation.

➢ Darin meets with Vice Provost Damon Williams and his team to learn more about the innovation vision and understand their focused innovation challenges to determine a customized program strategy. After deliberation that week, it is decided that the program will include using a combination of live workshops facilitated by Darin and a 10 module suite of video workshops with activities facilitated by faculty and staff.

November 2011

➢ Darin facilitates a live kick-off workshop for division directors to teach them the innovation process and guide them through the process they will take facilitating the program (via the video workshops) with their staff. The focus of this workshop was on helping others to get started with their innovation challenge.

➢ Module 1 of video workshops is launched and individual units begin to identify their specific innovation challenges to work on individually and collaboratively.

December 2011

➢ All 10 video workshop modules are available and ready for use by the Division. Each unit proceeds at their own pace in consistent meetings and in a style that suits them.

January 2012

➢ Darin facilitates a closing workshop at a live, working retreat for all staff in the Division that focuses on helping staff further identify and develop their innovation ideas and getting staff to collaborate and communicate on what they have already developed.

February 2012 and beyond

➢ Units within the division are continuing to work through the video workshop modules with the goal of each unit and/or individual staff within the units developing a portfolio of visual and value focused innovation concepts that they will then begin to execute.

➢ Version 2.0 of the 10 module video workshop suite is launched with updates derived from participant feedback and ideas. The program is always being updated and available for use by the UW Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate.


Below is the step-by-step innovation process that UW Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate staff learned and practiced. The process is based on years of Darin’s research and experience conducting innovation projects for colleges, companies, non-profits, and start-ups. The UW OVPDC leadership team worked with Darin to design a collaborative program and custom roll-out strategy to maximize engagement. Throughout the duration of the program, Darin uses a real innovation challenge (helping an institution learn and do innovation) as an example. He shows results for each activity every step of the way, and the ideas being developed that be used too by the division. Here is a clip from the video program that shows the innovation steps:


While UW OVPDC staff are working through the innovation process, they are also developing key skills needed to be successful innovators. Research shows that innovation skills such as creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking are among the most sought-after competencies in employees. Program Innovation helps participants cultivate these skills as they go through the innovation process. Here is a clip from the video portion of the program detailing the innovation skills focused on:


Program Innovation can be delivered in a number of different ways. The 10 module suite of video workshops is the core of the program and these can be done collaboratively in groups without the need for an expert innovation facilitator. Darin Eich or an innovation consultant can also kick-off or punctuate the program with live speeches, workshops, or retreats. Ongoing coaching, mentoring, check-ins, or showcase events can also be designed into the program. The UW OVPDC leadership team chose to do a combination of live workshops in concert with the video workshop program. Darin provided some ongoing advising, facilitated the live workshops, and taught UW OVPDC directors how to facilitate the video program modules with their staff.

The Ten Module Innovation Program:
Workshop 1: The Innovation Process
Workshop 2: Innovation Skills
Workshop 3: Your Innovation Challenge
Workshop 4: Innovation Questions for Idea Capture
Workshop 5: Structured Ideation
Workshop 6: Innovative Idea Generation
Workshop 7: Idea Analysis & Synthesis
Workshop 8: Concept Development
Workshop 9: Test and Select
Workshop 10: Communicate and Advance

Live events (such as an energizing kick-off presentation, interactive workshop, or full-day retreat) can be customized and conducted by Darin to help your organization learn and adopt the innovation process. They can be done in conjunction with the video program. Ongoing advising is also available with customizing the program. Below is a clip from UW OVPDC staff engaging in an activity called “Bounce” during the all-staff retreat. The activity allows people to rapidly communicate and develop their concepts generated during the program.

Sign up here for complimentary access to the first module of the Innovation Program and additional resources. Contact [email protected] for more information about customizing and structuring your own program. We can share ideas for delivery options and live events to deepen the effect in helping people learn and do innovation for their challenge.

Why this collaborative innovation leadership development program?

  • Experience – Darin has been developing leadership programs for 10+ years, helping organizations learn and practice innovation. He is also the author of “Root Down & Branch Out: Best Practices For Leadership Development Programs.”
  • Action – Take action to produce tangible leadership results by taking on an actual innovation challenge within your group. Systematically develop ideas you need. Get catalyzed and check in with scheduled sessions and collaborative activities.
  • Flexibility – Program Innovation is custom tailored to suit your needs. Since it is online video workshop based, students or staff can participate when and where they want and you can build live events and coaching into the program.
  • Proven Success – I’ve taken my experience facilitating innovation for Fortune 500 companies and consulting startups and bring it to University staff and students. Career-focused individuals will learn the same innovation processes I’ve facilitated at Dartmouth and for P&G and the UN.
  • Value – Generate and develop new ideas that can save money and resources through this value-focused program. See a return on investment via new programs, products, marketing and skills.


Darin Eich is the author of “Root Down & Branch Out: Best Practices For Leadership Development Programs.” Download a sample .pdf of the book here.

Contact Darin at [email protected] to learn how you can launch an innovative program. Network with Darin at the sites below.

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