coaching - PATI Intensive training

A sporty start to innovations

After innovation expert Benno van Aerssen had completed a biathlon training with sports psychologist Rainer Kiefer and shortly afterwards Rainer Kiefer had started training as an innovation coach at the van Aerssens verrocchio Institute, one thing was clear to both of them - "We knew immediately why so many innovation and design thinking teams only had sporadic but no sustainable innovation successes or even performance increases. This gave the impetus to develop the "Professional Athlete Training for Innovation Teams", or PATI for short, in a joint project.

Benno van Aerssen and his verrocchio institute had long observed the following circumstances in many companies:

  • There were successes with design thinking in many organisations, but only sporadically and not continuously or sustainably.
  • The performance curve of employees over several innovation projects practically always drops sharply.
  • Employees often long to return to their daily business after several innovation projects.
  • In the long run, innovation teams always have a high fluctuation of participants and a sustainable increase in performance is not perceptible.
  • Over time, the basics have to be retrained again and again and you don't reach a professional level.

In contrast, the expectations of almost all participants and the entire management are as follows:

  • We start with the basics and get better from innovation project to innovation project.
  • First we generate small innovations and then we increase over time to bigger, more courageous and more radical successes.
  • Innovating becomes an important part of our value creation and culture, attracting more and more people and increasing their performance in day-to-day business as a collateral effect.
  • We are increasing our ability to innovate from year to year.
  • After some time, we no longer need external help.

With their two very different expertise, Benno van Aerssen and Rainer Kiefer were suddenly able not only to explain this serious dilemma, but also to develop an effective solution.

The Professional Athlete Training for Innovation Teams (PATI) was born.

What we realized:

Top athletes train body, mind and soul on different levels. Employees in innovation projects or innovation teams don't do this and usually only power themselves out mentally
Top athletes consciously train with different levels of stimulation. In design thinking projects, all work packages are usually worked through equally intensively.
Top athletes professionally use the alternation between tension and relaxation. Professional relaxation hardly occurs in innovation projects.
Top athletes use the principle of the individual, correct load sequence and training plans to increase their performance over the years. At best, the level of performance in innovation teams remains constant throughout the year.
Top athletes use an effective mixture of distributed and massaged (motor) learning. In innovation projects the participants are usually only one-dimensional on the way.
Top athletes pay attention to the difference between stress and strain. In many projects, especially with an agile and iterative focus, the participants find themselves in a dangerous permanent stress situation.
In biathlon shooting, for example, the focus is not on fading out the disruptive factors, but on fading in the necessary processes. Participants in innovation projects usually handle this the other way round.
Muscles grow during breaks. Ideas arise during the incubation breaks.

The PATI now combines principles, methods and exercises from competitive sports into innovation work in a target-oriented way, for a long-term increase in innovation capability.

The concept of PATI:

The basic attitude:

The brain works especially in the fun/flow area, with 100% identification with the task and the energy or ideas come when the attention is clear. So-called happiness hormones support the networking of synapses. In order to achieve the result relevant fun factor, the identification of the participants with the topics and the respective optimally directed attention we have developed the following KGS model following the definition of the WHO of health. It differentiates between physical, mental and social well-being. Since we assume that development and innovation are promoted when the body's resources are not tied to deficits, the PATI ensures that there is an optimal balance between the three areas. The principle behind this is

Depending on fatigue in one or more columns of the KGS model, a recovery in the originally fatigued column can be achieved by working in a less fatigued column (Kiefer model, 2018). This model is based on the mutual external view and the principle of alternating stress. In the KGS model, training always means setting stimuli in at least one pillar (body, mind, social) and thus fatiguing this area. The other, less stressed, pillars are used for compensation.

The respective changes in the personal attention and the different intensities and possibilities for social exchange allow again and again the external view in relation to the last physically or mentally demanding work phase and thus space for recovery (= compensation and preparation for the next coming workload).


  • A quick and "state of the art" overview on the topics of idea generation, creativity, innovation management and innovation culture.
  • A joint innovation glossary to discuss the challenge of "innovation" more efficiently and effectively.
  • A know-how lead for a convincing and credible management mandate.
Pati's targets:
  • Creation of a permanent physical, mental and emotional resource equilibrium in order to be able to withstand the cognitive-mental demands of innovation in particular.
  • Use of supercompensation and periodization to increase the innovative performance potential in a controlled way.
  • Use of holistic training plans and concepts for microcycles (workshop level), mesocycles (project level) and macrocycles (annual level) for maximum independent handling of participants and teams.
  • Initiation of a targeted transfer of all principles, methods and exercises into day-to-day business, for a holistic development of strength and target-oriented cultural development.


This PATI intensive training, for teams of up to 18 people, can be used as a project kick-off or as a starting point for an all-year PAT.

The PATI is all about top performance in the areas of creativity, design thinking and innovation. Like a training camp for top athletes, this unit begins for the participants with intensive preparation and also includes a follow-up phase.

Through the experience of the trainers and regular individual exchanges (including physiological or cognitive test procedures if necessary), the load can be optimally controlled so that the days available for an innovation project can be optimally used for maximum performance.

In addition to good preparation, it is also important to plan for appropriate space for recovery after the training camp, as mental and physical stress should be controlled in such a way that the result in terms of content is really optimal.

It is essential that all participants take part in the PATI Innovation Workshop rested (= as resilient as possible) in the areas of body, mind and soul.

Our experience - The better the needs of the participants in the requirements context of the 3-day intensive innovation workshop are clarified and covered in terms of an optimal balance, the more likely practical results are.

In the PATI training camp, all innovation work phases are supported by physical balance (= mental recovery) according to the KGS model. In the course of the day, the impact (stimulus density) decreases during the exercises, whereby the extent increases in each case. The course is strongly process-oriented and depends on the circumstances and wishes of the participants.

Important note: The group is accompanied throughout by sport psychology.


Part 1: The concrete preparation of the participants for the training camp

This preparation begins already approx. 2 weeks before the training camp with the following tasks:

  • Make sure you get enough sleep before the training camp.
  • Make sure you eat healthy food and drink enough fluids before the training camp.
  • Reduction of alcohol consumption - An individual, motivational clarification of the order should take place in good time. - All participants should appear muscular rested for the training camp.
  • All participants train the ability to be longer without a smartphone (optional: document usage (e.g. App Quality Time)).
  • All participants minimize all "things in the back of their mind" that are mentally and emotionally stressful. During the three days of training, they try to keep these things away through targeted information of their environment and structured reflection in advance.
  • Each participant reads different basic texts and videos on different topics of innovation in advance.
  • Everybody recalls basics of gymnastics. Gladly with practical application. Yoga and meditation are also possible.
  • Cycling, running and swimming are recommended sports in preparation. (It is important to reflect on one's own fitness status, if necessary seek medical advice on resilience).

Part 2: The PATI Training Camp


  • Joint morning movement in the group to prepare the work phase "Understanding". Impact high, circumference low (e.g. running ABC).
  • Design Thinking Project "Understanding" the challenges, people and trends.


  • Targeted preparation of the work phase "Observation" through social interaction in the movement, e.g. biathlon or table tennis (round trip).
  • Design Thinking Project "Observing" the persons and the environment


  • A tour over open spaces and through the forest prepared. Extent high >1h, possibility to breathe deeply and to talk freely in 2 groups, if necessary E-Bike/Nordic-Walking etc..
  • Design Thinking Project "Synthesis" Development of the central questions and determination of the point of view for the idea generation


  • Joint morning movement in the group with previous run ABC in the morning. Short, intense, deductive.
  • Design Thinking Project "Idea Finding" Creative phase with development of the first preliminary ideas.


  • Preparation with communication exercises from outdoor pedagogy, e.g. Pipeline/Acid Pond/Mowhawk-Walk/Spinnennetz/Schneller Ball
  • Design Thinking Project "Prototyping" Enrichment of the most attractive preliminary ideas and creation of the first prototypes


  • In the evening again more scope with common gymnastics, Stabi, Yoga unit before the Testing
  • Design Thinking Project "Testing" First testing of prototypes.


  • In the morning, before a possible "iteration", deductive movement again according to the instructions of Lauf-ABC.
  • Design Thinking Project Further iterative work in all work packages.


  • Further PAT depending on the following work package.
  • Design Thinking Project Further iterative work in all work packages.
PATI training camp:


The PATI ideally takes place at the DSV Skiakademie Nordic-Schule Notschrei.

The Nordic-School Notschrei is a DSV Ski Academy for cross-country skiing, biathlon, team development and sports psychology and combines movement with transfer, because the whole team is convinced of the sense of this connection. The Nordic Center Notschrei lives a winter sports tradition. From the board to the trainers, coaches, athletes to our active members. With the Nordic-Arena, the cross-country skiing centre, the cross-country skiing house, the Bergstüble, the Nordic School, the rental shop and the Sporthotel, the snow-assured location offers everything that both trainers and guests need from a single source. Simplicity and quality of service are our top priorities. The stadium of the Nordic-Centers Notschrei was completely renovated and functionally considerably extended in 2009. With modern snow-making technology, floodlights and an altitude of 1200 m above sea level, it is a sustainable training and competition centre for cross-country skiers, biathletes and Nordic combined skiers, only 25 minutes away from Freiburg. Furthermore, it is also the DSV federal base Nordic / Biathlon and federal base for disabled sports.

The team does sport for everyone - all year round - biathlon also in summer - with MTB, with roller skis or on foot! In the middle of the wonderful Black Forest landscape between Feldberg, Belchen and Schauinsland - only 30 minutes away from Freiburg.

Here the sport always depends on the participants, not the other way round! The team teaches the participants the right technique so that they can have fun and exercise healthily. With competence and passion, with head and heart.

Of course, Rainer Kiefer, from his activity, knows many other places worldwide that come into question as a PATI training camp.

verrocchio Notes

Are you willing to make yourself familiar with new innovation methods? Are you wondering what the job of an Innovation Coach looks like? Are you willing to be up-to-date as to the subject of innovation?

We will send you hand-picked innovation know-how in the monthly verrocchio Notes. Free of charge and geared to practice. At first hand from Benno van Aerssen and Christian Buchholz, the founders of verrocchio Institute.

Just fill in the form, send it to us and confirm the response e-mail - that's how easy you will become a recipient.

By the way: We don't like spam mails and, certainly, neither do you. For this reason, your data will be safe with us and we will never pass them on to third parties.