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  • Writer's pictureBrett Taylor

Innovation Frameworks

Educational organizations can leverage these innovation frameworks to radically change and improve programs and systems.

In the fall of 2014, I was tasked with creating a high school for entrepreneurship. Since I had little experience with entrepreneurship at the time, I looked for frameworks being used by entrepreneurs in the field. The goal was to give our students the understanding for how to build a business. Early on, I had the thought that since we were building a new school, why not use these frameworks to have a better understanding about how to teach them to students? The Phillip J. Patiño School of Entrepreneurship implemented Lean Startup, Design Thinking, and the Business Model Canvas to design and prepare the school.

Along the way, I had a big realization: These frameworks were amazing for rethinking and redesigning education. Not only were we able to implement these frameworks among our students, but so much of what the school became was created through the use of these frameworks. It became clear that these innovation frameworks were beneficial for all school leaders at any level. I shared more detail about this in an article I wrote last year for Leadership Magazine, Using a Startup Model for School Change.

Since my work with the Patiño School of Entrepreneurship, I founded NewSchool Innovation Consulting, where I have been able to test and refine my use of innovation models with multiple educational organizations. I am currently supporting a university redesign its entire undergraduate program using Design Thinking, 10 Types of Innovation, and the School Startup Canvas. I have also used these frameworks in supporting program and curricular design for multiple high schools and higher education programs.

More information about implementing these frameworks can be found at my website:, including downloadable templates and articles. Below is a short list of innovation frameworks. For the most part, these frameworks are used for redesigning and reimagining education, but they each have different purposes for implementation. These short descriptions can help you get started.

Lean Startup

The Lean Startup is a model that harnesses the power of startups into a systemic framework. It can be used for entire startups, or internal projects within an organization. While the Lean Startup shares things in common, it tends to be a better framework when an idea is already presented, or a direction already determined. The Lean Startup focuses on pushing out the idea through early customer testing and iterative change and improvement.

Design Thinking

Design Thinking leverages user-focused processes to understand challenges, develop prototypes, and create change and new processes within organizations. This framework promotes experimentation with innovative solutions and consistent analysis through testing solutions with the end user. It differs from the Lean Startup because it starts with the user first and spends time diving into the needs or problems of the user before moving forward. I have written a book called Design Thinking PLCs: Revolutionize Teacher Collaboration with specific details about how design thinking can be used to improve teacher collaboration.

School Startup Canvas

The School Startup Canvas has been adopted from the Business Model Canvas. It is a visual chart with elements describing an organization’s, department’s or product's value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances. The School Start Canvas supports program evaluation and gives a high-level picture of where the organization currently stands and allows for strategic planning for development and improvement in multiple areas.

Ten Types of Innovation

The Ten Types of Innovation is a framework developed by Doblin that focuses on multiple different opportunities for developing innovation beyond the most obvious or common. It serves as both an analysis tool and ideation tool to help organizations consider multiple innovation tactics to differentiate, grow market, and improve its offerings.

Agile Project Management

Approach to management where requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their customer/end user.

Because these frameworks are iterative, they allow for trying things out, learning, and refining. The best thing to do is to pick one and get started. If you need help facilitating the work with stakeholders, NewSchool Innovation Consulting is a great place to get support. We design specific plans for involving faculty and students in the design process.

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