Innovation Teams

Helping Premium Members Achieve Greater Impact with Faster Adoption of Innovations

What is an Innovation Team?

A group formed by the Extension director or administrator to make progress on the wide adoption at their institution of at least one innovation to achieve a measureable impact for the membership year. eXtension serves in a consulting role to support achievement of the Innovation Team’s goal by providing services (described below). Innovations to consider adopting for your institution can include those explored by eXtension Fellows, Innovation Projects, i-Three Corps Members, Communities and Learning Networks.

Successful Innovation Adoption Examples:

  • Oregon State UniversityOregon State’s Innovation Team has gone through several iterations over the years. Early on, this team focused on implementing a statewide deployment of Ask an Expert garnering great public recognition.  A re-imagined team, fully embracing the model outlined here, is focusing on a systemwide use of Twitter for Oregon State Extension.
  • Ohio StateAs one of the longest standing Innovation Teams, Ohio State has identified numerous opportunities to bring innovative ideas, tools, and technologies to their colleagues.  From technology “petting zoos” at annual conferences to the first ever Education Technology team devoted to helping OSU Extension faculty meet the challenges of integrating technology and practice, this team has modeled leadership and innovation. The team also led the statewide adoption of eXtension’s Ask an Expert.
  • University of DelawareInspired by what they learned at the National eXtension Conference, Delaware Extension’s innovation team set out to bring the work of Delaware agents, educators, and specialists to greater public light. This team of innovators explored and then deployed social media training system wide to share success stories and to empower faculty and staff to tell their own stories to their followers and new audiences.

Build your Innovation Team

Our experience shows that successful teams have these characteristics:

  • At least one strong leader, assigned by the director or administrator, who is committed to organizing and moving the group work forward to meet the priority goal you set for the Innovation Team. Co-leaders and tri-leaders work well.
  • A minimum team size of three people. Maximum team size of 12-13. Nine people works well. A diverse team of agents, educators, administrators, support staff, middle managers…a cross section of our organization…is helpful.
  • A focus on reaching your agents and educators with the planned innovation.
  • Look for team leaders and members with strong personal networks and a demonstrated interest in innovation, change, and working differently.
  • At least monthly meetings focused on achieving specific goal and tasks.
  • Recognition by the CES administration in institutional programs, meetings and conferences; work highlighted routinely; calling upon the team to solve or address institutional issues.

Next steps to achieve Innovation Team impact

  • Working closely with eXtension, develop an impact goal you would like to work toward with your Innovation Team in 2016 that can leverage an innovation such as a new way of working, a new program model, a new way to reach your audiences or clients, or a new way to assess impact. We can help you define an appropriate goal for your Innovation Team in a 30-minute preparation call with you.
  • Develop a plan for the year that prioritizes the organizational change work to achieve your impact goal such as inclusion in plans of work, incorporation into organizational strategic plans, and development of special projects.

How we support your Innovation Team

As a premium member, establishing an Innovation Team demonstrates a mutual commitment made each membership year between your institution and eXtension to increase your institution’s impact through the adoption of a priority innovation for the membership year.

  • Innovation Team Roundtables(s) at the National eXtension Conference, March 22-25: leaders of new and potential Innovation Teams are invited to participate.
  • Monthly Innovation Team Webinars: eXtension facilitates online conversations among Innovation Team cohorts at institutions that are focusing on advancing similar innovations. Periodic featured guests will share examples including road-tested models for evaluation, proven models for rewards and recognition, and how to design a campaign to accelerate adoption. Presented on the first Tuesday of every month at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
  • Bi-Monthly Trends and Issues Webinars providing the latest emerging trends, issues, and best practices across CES featuring Innovation Team solutions: presented on the third Thursday of every other month (initial 2016 schedule is Feb 18, April 21, June 16,  2:00-3:00 pm Eastern time). These are available to all members.
  • Custom Education
    • For directors/administrators – a 30-minute Zoom meeting with you to:
      • develop your leadership approach to innovation in your context
      • ways to build and foster your Innovation Team
      • identify your innovation strengths and preferences and those of your team
    • For team leaders and team members – a 60-minute Zoom meeting to begin the Innovation Team’s work. The director/administrator introduces the meeting and gives the charge to the Innovation Team.  Your customized agenda could include any of the following – and more.
      • how to build and grow your Innovation Team
      • how to spread the adoption of promising innovations in your team’s context
      • how to catalyze local innovation
      • how to recognize local innovation
      • how to develop professional performance to achieve impact with innovation
      • how to maximize the member benefits of eXtension’s various tools such as Ask an Expert, Qualtrics, Zoom, Google Suite, Learn and Campus (Moodle/Course Merchant) and more
    • On site consultation and action — if desired, eXtension Innovation Team liaisons can assist at annual conferences and other events where an innovation focus is in place.
  • A Special Innovation Enhancing Program: The ISPI

eXtension now has a team of Certified Facilitators to administer, interpret and coach in applying the Innovation Strengths Preference Indicator (ISPI). This powerful assessment instrument can help innovation team members maximize their individual strengths in developing innovations. The feedback assessments provide the team and institution with a common lexicon and understanding of how individuals and teams can align to facilitate innovation, based upon well-researched personal innovation traits. The ISPI, when tailored to a team’s local context, can expedite conversations and efforts on innovation at the local level.

For Premium Members, eXtension will conduct the ISPI assessment instrument for up to ten people, provide individualized feedback to each participant and prepare an interpretation tailored to your institution’s context. Beyond this first ten, people can be added to this innovation assessment program for $75/person (includes administration of the instrument, interpretation and individual feedback session). This program also includes one group webinar to clarify the findings and launch conversations among individuals and teams on how to take advantage of the findings in advancing their innovation efforts. PLUS it includes eXtension’s development of a suggested plan for moving forward.

Getting Started

Contact Terry Meisenbach (, 760-641-9354 or Jerry Thomas (, 419-360-9400.