Innovation should not belong to one department or team. A team may be charged with inspiring, encouraging or leading innovation. But, to be successful innovation needs to permeate your organization. Innovation needs to belong to everyone.
If your learning team creates a new resource, but it requires finance or publications to stop doing something or create a different way of doing something. Does the learning innovation live on or does the required organizational support make it a non-starter?
Challenging a team to be innovative and then requiring them to work in the midst of an organization where no one else is willing to adapt or innovate will ultimately lead to frustration.
You can’t change the world or your association overnight, but taking small steps to foster an environment supportive of innovation can build confidence, comfort and a foundation for the change. A few simple things to consider:
- Host a conversation exploring “What does innovation mean to us?” Letting people know what “innovation” means and where the organization would welcome it helps focus efforts.
- Explore what the association values most. What the organization values and rewards can guide staff actions. Do you reward – being on time, following a predetermined plan, no disruptions, harmony? Do you reward/recognize staff for piloting new ideas, identifying challenges, trying new ways?
- Facilitate post-project reviews asking the team: What worked? What did not work? What could we do different next time? And make appropriate revisions.
Creating an understanding of innovation and an environment to support staff efforts are key steps to fostering innovation in your association.