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Browse the toolkit

You can browse the toolkit below. Filter what’s being shown by clicking on the category you want to see.

What is the DIY Innovation Toolkit?

It started out as a book project, but the word book just doesn’t seem to do it justice any more. Today the toolkit is part book, part curriculum initiative and part freely accessible online resource – all outcomes of what I’m calling the Do It Yourself (DIY) Innovation Project – aimed at helping people carry out something I call Deliberate Innovation Design.

The toolkit’s intended to help anyone – but especially people just starting down the innovation and entrepreneurship path – as they turn new ideas into wealth-building innovations. This includes engineers wishing to commercialize new technologies, students looking to start a business in their field, managers wanting to start a new business, directors of non-profit organizations seeking to drive new revenues in a feasible and meaningful way, and product managers who desperately want to discover and implement the next game-changer.

The toolkit helps you understand peoples’ needs, design practical solutions to meet those needs, and implement those solutions to make change that is at the same time highly feasible AND highly impactful AND highly enduring.

It’s not just about commercializing a technology or making money (stereotypes often associated with innovation).

It’s about building social, financial, human, built and natural capital – in different combinations but deliberately and all at the same time – to build genuine wealth [1] and make the world a better place.

And it doesn’t matter whether you’re in a nonprofit or a for profit setting, whether you’re in a new venture or a large corporation, or whether you’re a front line worker or the CEO.

Everyone can do it!

There’s no magic involved. At it’s root, the toolkit is a practical conceptual framework and a way of thinking that helps you understand and execute on the best of today’s ideas and approaches to innovation.

You’ll see that it’s about helping you understand the fundamentals of business and venture modeling, but you’ll also see that it’s about you becoming really good at something much bigger than that. Something I call Deliberate Innovation Design that can help you make something amazing out of almost nothing at all.

You can adopt just the parts of the toolkit you like best – such as the Really Big Value Idea Framework – or you can buy into the learning process wholesale. Either way, before long you’ll be seeing opportunities everywhere you go and evaluating them on every napkin you come across. And you’ll be changing the world by creating really big enduring value.

Oh, and if you’re looking to learn the mechanics of how to write a business plan then you’re in the wrong place. But if you’re looking to get yourself and a new enterprise you’re passionate about to a point that writing your business plan seems as simple as writing a list of the gifts you want for Christmas, then by all means take it for a spin.

You’ll be challenged to consider that all of this is possible – more likely and more impactful, even – if you make change for its own sake because it will make you and others happy.

At it’s best, Deliberate Innovation Design about achieving a state of flow, a state where “attention, motivation, and the situation meet, resulting in a kind of productive harmony or feedback.” [2] In that state “the ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” [3]

You’re also able to browse the toolkit below. Filter what’s being shown by clicking on the category you want to see.

Why are you making your digital work available for free?

I get this question a lot, along with questions about why I haven’t taken publishers up on offers to get it out through typical channels. So here’s a five-part answer.

Reason 1. I want to fill the tent

I like how Cory Doctorow puts it [4]. He’s a Canadian journalist, blogger, author and copyright activist who gives away the content of his books for free in digital form. He builds on what Tim O’Reilly has said on the topic [5] to argue that the problem most writers have is not piracy. Rather, it’s obscurity. To paraphrase Doctorow, he says his interest is in getting more people “into the tent” rather than “making sure everyone who’s in the tent bought a ticket to get there”. I think that’s bang on. I believe things like business modeling and deliberate innovation design can have a really big impact on how people innovate, and I’m convinced that they’ll have a much greater impact more quickly if they’re available to everyone. And in our world of expensive online courses and $300 textbooks, I’m sure there are people who should be in the tent but can’t (or shouldn’t have to) pay to be there. Especially students.

So, I make my digital works available for free in order to help us fill the tent. Foremost, I want people to use them.

Reason 2. Let’s put a hole in the wall

In 1999 a guy named Sugata Mitra literally dug a hole in the wall that separated the research institute where he worked from the neighboring slum in New Delhi. Then he put a computer in the hole facing outward. And that’s all he did, other than wait to see what happened. The fascinating result of this and subsequent similar experiments is that the (mainly) children who used the computer taught themselves how to do so and how to go online – all on their own. They did it through self-instruction and by helping each other. Dr. Mitra has become well known for this experiment and for a type of learning that he calls minimally invasive education. Both are important because they challenge some of the basic assumptions of formal education, most notable of which is the assumption that education is best when structured and formally directed by a teacher. (I’ve paraphrased several online sources here [6] [7].)

Because of my job as a Professor of Entrepreneurship at Mount Royal University, I’m often asked whether innovation and entrepreneurship can be taught at all. (It turns out that lots of people like to argue this.) These days my answer is that that’s usually the wrong question. Rather, when someone asks me that I like to reframe the discussion and emphasize that they can be learned. (Nobody seems to argue with this.) And that a lot can be done to create an environment that informs and fosters the learning process. That’s where the toolkit comes in. It’s my hope that the DIY Innovation ToolkitTM and my other work can help that happen, like Mitra’s computer did for his experiments.

I’m trying to put a computer through a hole in the wall. Time will tell…

Reason 3. We need feedback

If we can fill the tent – with people putting these kinds of ideas to work – and if we can encourage vibrant conversations about the experiences those people have, then we’ll all benefit from the feedback. And I’m pretty keen on generating that kind of feedback among and between innovators.

Reason 4. The work is never done

Although we might choose to stop working on it, this kind of work is never done. I’m hopeful feedback of the kind I mention above will inform and inspire many future iterations by many of us working in this field.

Reason 5. You never know

Those of you who read Doctorow’s comments at the link I provided above will have noticed that he makes his case for filling the tent in the context of achieving commercial success. If you’ll permit me to modify that to career success, and in turn define that as having the resources required to keep having an impact and being happy while doing it, then I’d be lying if I said that wouldn’t be a cool outcome too.

What does “making your work available for free” mean?

I appreciate it when people ask this question.

The answer’s actually quite simple but does sometimes need explaining because this kind of thing is still not the norm. You’ll see throughout the site that I’m licensing my digital works to you using what’s called an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons license. You can read about the license on the creative commons website [8] but the basic idea is that you’re welcome to view and download my digital works, and you can share them with others as long as you credit me. But in doing so you can’t change them or use them commercially.

Generally speaking when you’re reading what I’ve posted, you can think of it like I’m handing you a digital copy of parts of a book I wrote. I want you to read it. I’ll be thrilled if you put it to use. And, as long as you attribute me properly [9], I’ll be even more excited if you share it with others. However, I’m choosing to keep the rest of the rights. For example, just like a book you might buy from a bookstore, you’re not welcome to alter it, or (re)sell it in any form. And it’s intended only for your noncommercial use [10] unless we come to some other explicit agreement.

And to be clear, I’m not in any way restricting you from using what you find in the toolkit to create your own amazing social enterprise or super-crazy-profitable commercial venture. That’s the whole idea for many innovators and entrepreneurs, and a very possible outcome for those using the toolkit! Rather, I’m just reserving my right to collect royalties using my own works should I ever want to.

You’re also able to browse the toolkit below. Filter what’s being shown by clicking on the category you want to see.

Some people like to just browse the toolkit. That’s fine with me. Knock yourself out!

Below you can filter the tools being shown by clicking on the category you want to see.

The Innographer is a practical open education firm that helps people (learn to) innovate. It operates as a social business with the goal of having as much impact as possible in the world around us by helping to people get educated and build their innovation literacy. All of these tools are available for free for non-commercial purposes through a Creative Commons License. Learn more about why this is on the “Why is it free?” tab found here. See the license here.

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