Written by Ronald Jonash, Dr. Hitendra Patel, Kate O’Keeffe, and Michael Warsaw for Innovation Excellence. Read the full article here.


Exploring the interface between Blended Action Learning and Business Innovation is filled with challenges and new opportunities but will clearly require an effective portfolio approach to both the tools of the trade and different modes of building a foundation of knowledge, skills and experience. To be cost effective, these programs clearly need to deliver bigger, better, bolder and faster results at the same time they build sustainable High Performance Innovation Capability.

As Action Learning Project coaches, team sponsors and participants, we’re interested to share numerous success stories with you, and provide new opportunities to participate or learn about accelerated Action Learning for your enterprise.

The Application of Blended Action Learning in Innovation

Addressing the demand for blended action learning solutions has become particularly critical and challenging in the field of Business Innovation (operationally defined as the Creation AND Capture of New Value in New Ways through new products, services, business models, value propositions and experiences,) where:

  • Innovation Leadership Teams are being challenged to build a more disciplined and broad-based Innovation capability that delivers bigger, bolder and better 10X results across the extended enterprise – more sustainably and cost-effectively than the competition –requiring both High Performance and Lean Innovation
  • The Innovation Profession is being challenged to develop a more disciplined and consistent language and set of tools and capabilities that can support the development of the innovation competencies most critical to success – in the areas of strategy, capacity and discipline, the first set of global standards that have now been developed and endorsed by the Global Innovation Management Institute
  • Individual Practitioners and Development Teams are being challenged to engage in a wide range of new ways thinking and acting required to be successful in an arena as complex, uncertain, and ambiguous as innovation – skills not delivered through conventional training or be conventional business and technical schools –  but now accessible through a range of blended on-line sources and certification programs

Blended Action Learning meets Innovation at the Hult International Business School

Hult International Business School has embraced Action and Experiential Learning across its entire curriculum but nowhere more aggressively than in its Capstone Action Learning Programs and in the Global Hult Prize which involves more than 400 different business schools and the Clinton Global Initiative:

  • The Hult Innovation Olympics Action Program provides each client sponsor with its own five dedicated teams of International MBAs who compete to develop the best solutions and options to address the sponsors stated growth or innovation challenge. These programs blend professional action coaching and direct in-person team collaboration with a wide range of on-line idea sourcing, testing, and validation efforts involving software-enabled innovation tools that also involve client inputs to the intensive six-week process.
  • The Hult Competing for the Present Action Program also provides each client sponsor with its own dedicated teams of International MIBs who compete to come up with the best solutions and innovative approaches to navigate rapidly changing and complex competitive landscapes. These programs also blend professional action coaching with creative competitive intelligence gathering and intensive competitive simulations where each team role-plays different types of competitors and partners before integrating their findings into final action recommendations for the sponsor
  • The Hult Prize focuses on a social enterprise challenge that is developed by Hult and IXL with the Clinton Global Initiative and then distributed to over 400 competing teams who compete in regional events in March from which winners are selected to participate in a Social Enterprise Accelerator before making their final presentations for the $1Million dollar prize in September with President Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative in NYC.

Lessons Learned

Key observations about the meeting of Blended Action Learning and Business Innovation include:

  • Different Functions, Different Cultures, Different Ways of Thinking and Acting all need to be embraced and recognized with a blending of different action learning tools and collaboration vehicles – in person and virtual
  • Different personalities and ways of working patterns require tools that enable people to learn and do alone, in pairs and in teams – 24×7
  • Innovation is a contact sport and requires a mix of working virtually and face to face in person — requiring both action coaching, skilled innovation catalysts, and effective forcing functions and enablers
  • Innovation is as much about sparking and connecting the dots as it is about generating them, and also requires effective forcing functions and enablers – both software enabled and professionally facilitated

Read the full article here.

Ronald Jonash is Professor of Strategy and Innovation at Hult International Business School, and Senior Partner at the Center for Innovation, Excellence and Leadership (IXL Center). Dr. Hitendra Patel is Managing Director at the Center for Innovation, Excellence and Leadership (IXL Center), and Professor of Growth and Innovation at Hult International Business School.

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Hult offers a range of highly skills-focused and employability-driven business school programs including a range of MBA options and a comprehensive one year Masters in International Business. To find out more, take a look at our blog Hult scores in top 20 in The Economist’s Which MBA? ranking for 2019. Download a brochure or get in touch today to find out how Hult can help you to learn about the business world, the future, and yourself.