Spark Innovation Leaders

If you know someone who is a current or future senior innovation leader – or you are one yourself – then we want to hear from you!

Please use our recommendation and nomination form.


FAQ: Becoming a Spark Innovation Leader

What is the deal?

The Spark School for Innovation by Design helps restless innovation leaders grow creative and resilient organizations and accelerate innovation in their lives, careers, organizations, and the systems and disciplines by which they are most deeply inspired.

We launched the school in January 2016 with an incredible group of innovation leaders from many disciplines and areas of interest. Our next cohort will join us in breaking the mold and forging a new approach to executive-style education for innovation. You will take the approaches and mindsets out into the world to solve complex problems and create really big value opportunities — those that are at the same time eminently feasible (for you to make happen), deeply personally inspiring (to you), and highly impactful.

How did it go the first time?

Incredibly well. And it’s still going, as the founding cohort finishes its work. You can read some testimonials here.

How do I nominate someone?

Use the recommendation form, and fill in as much information as you can. This form goes directly to our cohort selection team.

Can I suggest someone I do not know personally?

Sure! Just let us know how you’ve heard about this person, and why you think they should be considered.

Can I suggest someone I work for, or an employee or client of mine?


Can I suggest myself?


When is the deadline for becoming a member of the team?

We will begin reviewing nominations as they come in, and from among those who are nominated we’ll begin inviting people to apply (an additional short process intended to complement the nomination).

We have already begun accepting people.

If there are still places left we plan to close the nomination process on September 9, 2016.

The full cohort will be announced once it has been selected.

For other key dates, we ask you to see the document linked in the answer to the next question.

What is the benefit? Why would I want to become a Spark Innovation Leader?

Here are the benefits in a format that you can print for yourself or email to your boss:

The Spark School for Innovation by Design

Why is the notion of cohort so important?

We’ve begun recruiting a team of Spark Innovation Leaders to join our second cohort starting October 17 2016 and we’re after a assembling dynamic cohort from all walks of life, with all kinds of passions, from all career stages, and representing many practices, disciplines, experiences and approaches to leading innovation.

You will build strong relationships with these somewhat unusual subjects, and this will challenge thinking, inspire confidence, and open doors – during and for years after the experience. Your network will grow in time, with deliberate connections between each cohort that goes through the School for Innovation by Design.

As such, the cohort model is one of the things that makes the School for Innovation by Design experience so much more than just a professional development seminar or series.

I have heard about your Spark Innovation Fellows. Can I apply for that?

The Spark Innovation Fellowship program is another one of the things that sets the experience apart. Fellows will be chosen from among the people who go through the Spark School for Innovation by Design. They will be selected because they excel at the practices, exemplify the mindset, and live the changes they are designing in the world. They will be challenged and receive support as they implement their change project.

So while you can’t apply to be a fellow, we hope you will become one after completing the program.

Do I need to have an idea or project coming into the experience?

No. You’re welcome to and we think that’s great, as long as you’re open to it evolving as part of the process. At the same time, you don’t need to have one. As you’ll see, a big part of the experience is the deliberate design of really big value opportunities. New idea or long-standing passion, you’ll be boosting it as part of the work.

How much time is involved? What is the full commitment?

The experience would require 8 days of your time for in-person learning and design, approximately 2 of which will be in the evenings:

  • it begins with 5 intensive, experiential days which would require you to be away from the office and from regular communications
  • this is followed by the 3-month opportunity design shop phase which would require you to be together with the cohort for 4 half-day periods (we aim to schedule these in the evening)
  • and these are followed by the assuring and ensuring impact and closing phases, which would require you to be together with the group for 2 more half-day periods

You can expect to work hard between these in-person commitments but no other time needs to taken away from work.

For more details, see page 3 of the brochure.

What is the registration fee?

Program tuition is CDN $5,400. For many this can be significantly offset using the Canada-Alberta Job Grant (see below).

What is the Canada-Alberta Job Grant?

The Canada-Alberta Job Grant is an employer-driven training program that’s part of the Government of Canada and Government of Alberta’s commitment to help address skills mismatches and ensure that employees are being trained in high-demand areas. If successful, your employer would cover a minimum of one third of direct training costs and government contributions would cover the rest. Learn more about the Canada-Alberta Job Grant ».

And for those employed through small Alberta-based corporations we understand that you need to have an Alberta Corporate Access number (the number that you received when you incorporated at the Alberta Registry). Then, fees will be paid up front through the corporation, and reimbursed to same.

Can more than one person participate from the same organization?

Generally speaking we’re looking for diversity, including a diversity of cultures and contexts from which leaders are coming. That said, get in touch if this is something you want to see happen. If there’s a case to be made then we want to hear it.

What is a competency-based program?

We’re taking the best of the best new proven approaches to communicating, fostering, and rewarding you for the competencies you’ll be gaining. And we’re using a modern open badging approach to make it possible. This makes it incredibly clear to you what are the required skills, abilities, and mindsets for leading innovation. It makes it easy for you to grow through experience. And it makes it possible for you to share evidence of your competencies, growth and innovation leadership abilities with others, e.g. through LinkedIn.

Watch this space for more on this, but expect to be earning and sharing the competencies through an open badge approach.