5 innovation templates for out-of-this-world thinking

From the moon landing to the Mars rovers to the International Space Station, space agency teams are some of the best at coming up with innovations that are quite literally out of this world.

While you and your own team might not be fueling rockets or launching satellites, you can still adopt creative strategies used by the brilliant brains at NASA and beyond — starting with these templates.

Whether you want to host a hackathon or run a better retrospective, these five space- and future-themed templates will give you the framework you need to shoot for the moon. 

1. Plan a hackathon with the NASA Space Apps template

A hackathon is a great way to quickly tap into collective genius in a fast-paced, collaborative, and lively atmosphere.

And while this NASA template was built to help Local Leads set up their own hackathon events as part of the NASA International Space Apps Challenge (an annual global hackathon), you can absolutely adapt it to your own team’s innovation events. 

There’s space to plan and organize every single aspect of your hackathon, from the agenda and teams to the winners and feedback. Use it for a company-wide Hack Day or a fun, team challenge. Either way, it’ll help you keep track of the logistics so everybody can focus on the most important part: executing solutions. 

2. Collect big ideas with the Ideation Space template

The best brainstorming sessions aren’t free-for-alls — they need a little bit of structure to keep the team focused. This Ideation Space template from facilitator and consultant, Florian Hameister, is for an ideation workshop that lasts an hour or two.

The template features four different exercises based on the popular FORTH Innovation Method. Even if you and your team aren’t already familiar with this approach, you can benefit from the exercises:

  • Braindump: Participants should access the board ahead of your brainstorming session to drop their own ideas and pull out some of their own favorites.
  • SCAMPER: This time is dedicated to the popular creativity acronym, SCAMPER. During your session, your team should divide into groups to find ways to substitute, combine, adapt, modify, put to another use, eliminate, and reverse.
  • What would Apple do?: Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes can help you think outside the box. In this exercise, the team should assume the role of a famous company, person, or innovator, and figure out how they would solve the problem.
  • Selection of top ideas: You don’t just want a lot of ideas — you want the best ideas. In this space, team members review all of the ideas generated throughout the workshop and select their top two favorites. 

The board also has two games to break up some of the brainstorming and keep the team connected and engaged. Plus, the space theme provides an added dose of creative inspiration.

3. Think even bigger with the Moonshot Thinking Canvas template

There’s no bigger thinking than moonshot thinking — where you identify your biggest, hairiest, most challenging problem (you know, the one that seems totally unbeatable), identify a solution, and then figure out how to make it a reality. 

That type of thinking can be energizing, but it can also be intimidating. The Moonshot Thinking Canvas template created by Big Pictury, a consultancy for communication and visualization, gives you and your team a framework to reach for the stars without feeling overwhelmed.

The board has space for you to outline your vision, obstacles, team, resources, tasks, and more. Every section is highly customizable, so you can easily tweak the template to suit your team and your unique challenge. Think of it as your go-to resource for figuring out how to achieve the impossible. 

4. Host a future-focused retrospective with the Bug to the Future template

A retrospective is when you and your team reflect on a completed sprint or project. But it’s not just about dwelling on the past — it’s also about planning for a better future. That’s where this Bug to the Future template created by Scrum Master, Alexandros Zochios, comes into play. 

With this template, your team imagines that the next sprint is perfect. With that vision in mind, they describe the sprint in detail and determine what they need to do to actually make it happen.

Will it guarantee flawlessness? Probably not. But it’s a solid (and fun) way for your team to aim a little higher with their next sprint. 

5. Set the stage with the Space Bingo template

Innovating doesn’t have to be all work and no play. In fact, an icebreaker activity can help your team get a little more comfortable with each other and fuel a sense of psychological safety. That means they’ll be even more willing to chime in with their big ideas. 

If you want to stick with the space theme, use this Space Bingo template from software engineer Clyde D’Souza in one of your next team meetings. 

Like any good icebreaker, the premise is pretty simple:

  • Split your group into two teams.
  • Each team takes a turn to roll two dice (you can use an online tool to do this if you’re meeting remotely) and use those numbers to identify the level of your spaceship where you need to fit your astronaut.
  • If there’s not an open space to place your astronaut, you lose your turn. 

Whichever team fills up their spaceship with astronauts first is declared the winner. It’s an easy way to ignite a little friendly competition before you get down to business. 

Take your team to infinity and beyond 

Shoot for the moon. Reach for the sky. There’s a reason so many encouraging phrases take their cues from outer space.  

Even if you aren’t planning intergalactic missions, put these otherworldly templates to work and you’ll be well on your way to limitless thinking.

Is your organization shooting for the moon?

58% of global leaders say that their company is afraid to invest in moonshot innovations.

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