The Innovation & Collaboration Learning Cafe from UW MANIAC

The University of Wisconsin has a very interesting group that is advancing innovation learning on campus and in the Madison community. I first got involved as a speaker at one of the Innovation & Collaboration Learning Cafes and became hooked every since. The people are amazing, the activities engaging, and the learning is enriching. More Colleges and Universities could start some innovation learning initiatives with a MANIAC-like model. Here is a description: UW-MANIAC (Madison Area Network for Innovation and Collaboration) is a dynamic partnership of University and business community people who are creatively exploring the possibilities of a network focused on sparking creative, innovative practices in our workplace. The “Innovation & Collaboration Learning Cafe Series” seeks to sustain learning about creative thinking and integrate it into the way we teach, research, and work together.

I’m doing a Ted Talk type speech to kick off the workshop that takes us into the world of “Technology & Community,” so we can tap creative ideas that have been transformed into successful innovations in the workplace, classroom and community.
The Café series seeks to sustain learning about creative thinking and integrate it into the way we teach, research and work together. Some of the main topics will be:

-Social Networking media, web-based analytics, and interactive mapping tools
-Innovative virtual facilitation tools and strategies for a variety of work environments
-Implications for communities of practice and other sustained learning organizations
-Synthesis and application – how do we take our learning “back home” where it needs to be applied?

MANIAC may have a funny name, and we have an enjoyable time, but the work in which we are engaged is seriously developing an increased capacity for creative, capable responses to complex challenges we face at the University, the community, and the larger society.

About The Author


Darin Eich is the author of Innovation Step-by-Step: How to Create & Develop Ideas for your Challenge and Root Down & Branch Out: Best Practices for Leadership Development Programs and has a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. Darin was also the president and co-founder of BrainReactions,, and other startups. Darin gives speeches and can be hired to help your institution facilitate, create, and develop innovation programs, courses, retreats, and even conduct assessment or coach staff on developing leadership programs. Visit Innovation Training or our Facilitation, Design Thinking, and Innovation Courses to see for yourself - or email [email protected]