TACIT project brochure

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TACIT Project in a nutshell

(You can download a copy of this brochure here) 

Project Overview


Title Teaching and Coaching Innovation & Entrepreneurship InnovaTively (TACIT)
Academic partners University of Exeter, UK

University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

HHL Graduate School of Management, Leipzig, Germany

RWTH International Academy, Aachen, Germany

Industrial partners BMW, Lego, Lufthansa, Nokia Networks, AachenMunchener, Horizon Institute of Torbay & South Devon NHS Foundation Trust
Other partners International Society for Professional Innovation Management (ISPIM),

Accreditation Agency ASIIN, Germany

Budget 999 561 EUR
Funding Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union



Teaching and Coaching Innovation – in innovative fashion!


Innovation matters – of course! Few people would argue with the need to ensure that our organizations change their offerings (products/services) and the ways we create and deliver them (processes) in order to keep pace with a rapidly changing world. If we don’t the message from history is clear – we won’t survive or grow! This theme is as relevant to public sector or social innovators as it is to the commercial world – it’s an innovation imperative.

The challenge comes not in recognizing the need for change but working out how to respond. Anyone might get lucky once but if we want to keep a steady flow of innovation happening then we need to think about organizing and managing the process. Innovation is all about creating value from ideas – but it won’t just happen, it needs some supporting structures and methods. We need to learn to manage innovation.


The good news is that we’ve got plenty to draw upon. In different ways practising managers, academic researchers and consultants have all been trying to understand how to make innovation happen and we can use that knowledge base to help build innovation management capability. But we need to adapt and configure those general principles to work in particular settings. And we need to recognize that whilst lectures and classrooms have their place, there is still plenty to do in terms of getting the message across to the people who will make innovation happen. In other words we need some innovation in the ways we think about teaching and coaching innovation.

That’s the core challenge at the heart of TACIT, a 3-year EU Knowledge Alliance (2016-2018) project under the Erasmus+ programme.[1] Working together academics and practitioner organizations will explore, prototype and roll out a suite of different and complementary approaches to the challenge and make this experience (and the emerging tools and methods) available to a wider audience. The work centres on eight core approaches: storytelling, peripatetic learning, future-based learning, entrepreneurship laboratory, innovation theatre, innovation games, design making, and project based learning.


All innovation projects, whether new concepts at the start-up stage of a new business or development projects within established organizations, require ‘pitching’ the idea to others to secure resources, commitment and support. This places emphasis on the need to develop a compelling narrative which can unfold as the innovation develops; recent years have seen an upsurge of interest in this approach and in the tools and techniques which can support it.  How could we use the skills of storytelling to improve aspects of innovation management? Making more persuasive pitches? Developing a storyboard for entrepreneurial ideas? Carrying forward useful innovation management lessons from past experience within the organization?

 Walking the talk – peripatetic learning

The great Greek philosopher Socrates had the idea which neuroscientists are now supporting – we are receptive to ideas when we are moving. Couple that with a truism, that changing our context makes us see things differently – and there is the basis for a new approach to learning about managing innovation. The core approach here is to use guided walks through landscapes which are full of examples of innovation – and explore them whilst in the open air, walking and discussing them away from the classroom context.

 Future-based learning

Innovation is about creating alternative futures and a powerful set of tools exist around scenarios and other projective techniques; some of these have been embedded in powerful methodologies such as Shell’s Game changer programme or the Future Agenda consortium. This strand of work will set up an ‘IF-Lab’ (Imagining the Future-Laboratory) – a place where participants imagine alternative futures and explore within them opportunities and challenges which can form the basis of novel product or service concepts. From these rich pictures tools for ‘back-casting’ and road-mapping can be used to develop clear pathways to take innovation opportunities forward.

 Entrepreneur laboratory

There’s been an explosion of interest in start-ups and how to engage and enable new ventures. They involve developing novel value propositions and expanding them into robust business models which can realize the potential value for end users. Coupled with powerful new approaches around rapid prototyping of minimum viable products, getting early feedback to refine ideas and pivoting towards a solution they provide a fast track to developing and implementing innovation. But such ‘boot camp’ models aren’t just relevant to start-ups and high tech enterprises. They can help existing organizations rethink how they come up with and carry forward business cases. Building on experience in companies like BMW, Nokia and Lego this strand of work will explore in a practical way how to bring the entrepreneurial lab into the mainstream.

 Innovation theatre

All the world’s a stage’ as Shakespeare pointed out – and one part of that stage is where the drama of innovation is being played out. So there is considerable scope for using not only the metaphor but also some of the tools and techniques from the world of theatre to explore the characters, scripts and scenery of innovation in different contexts – and to develop new tools and approaches to working with innovation. In particular we will draw on experience at the University of Southern Denmark which has worked for years on using theatre-based approaches to improve understanding and performance in real organizations.

Innovation games

Play and playfulness are increasingly being recognised as powerful aids to creativity and innovation. The concept of ‘serious play’ reflects this growing interest and this strand of work will explore the different ways in which games and structured play can provide new learning opportunities to develop innovation capabilities. These might range from simple live exercises through to more structured interactions and even online and virtual world gaming.

Design making

‘Design thinking’ has become on of the ‘hot topics’ in the innovation field in recent years, reflecting both an approach to solving problems and a wide-ranging toolkit which people can use to embrace design methods. Organizations like IDEO have demonstrated the potential of this model in a variety of public and private sector innovation contexts and it brings important new perspectives especially around user understanding and prototyping. This strand of work not only seeks to explore the ways in which design thinking can be used in learning how to manage innovation more effectively but also looks at ‘design making’ – the range of approaches which enable user engagement in prototyping and concept testing of various kinds.

Project-based learning

Innovation isn’t an academic or theoretical matter – it’s the practice of turning ideas into value. And much of what we’ve learned has come from reflecting on projects – successful or otherwise – and pulling out relevant lessons. This strand of work will look at the ways in which structured reflection can be used to capture learning from live innovation projects, and also how we can design reflection projects to help assess and enhance innovation management capability.

 Project design

Project design, or how and what TACIT is going to achieve is presented in the drawing below.

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For more details please contact project coordinator, Anna Trifilova at a.trifilova@exeter.ac.uk



This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
For other official EU language versions, reference must be made to the following website: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/education_culture/publ/graphics/beneficiaries_all.pdf


[1] Teaching and Coaching Innovation Innovatively (TACIT). Partners include Aachen-Münchener, ASIIN, BMW, ISPIM, LEGO, Lufthansa, Nokia and NHS Foundation Trust together with University of Exeter (UK); Southern Denmark University, Leipzig Graduate School of Management and RWTH International Academy, Aachen, (Germany).