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IQM2 Innovation Week: How to Foster Innovation (Part 1 of 2)

March 17, 2014
by Jacque Porte
IQM2 Sales & Marketing

Is Your Governing Board Stifling Innovation?

Innovation is fantastic, new, sometimes difficult, and usually risky, but the rewards often outweigh the benefits. Are your local officials fostering or stifling innovation? Frank Benest, former chief executive for the City of Palo Alto, brings us this helpful series of tips from the Institute of Local Government to help get your agency on track.

1. Don’t allow people to personally criticize staff for well-intentioned efforts. It is important to ensure that staff members as well as citizens voice their criticism with civility and respect. Officials can ensure civility is maintained in the board room by establishing rules of decorum and maintaining an environment that is open to innovation.

2. Call everything a “pilot” (even if it’s not a pilot). Residents will expect mistakes or imperfections from a trial run while your staff identifies what works and what does not.

3. Do a risk assessment in public. Encourage public consideration of the potential risks and rewards associated with an innovative project. This will also allow board members to publically discuss what is a responsible risk versus a gamble.

4. Tie the innovation proposal to the larger agenda. Tying an innovative proposal to an existing strategic goal will help staff and members of the public to understand the larger implications and potential rewards associated with a project. IQM2 side note: encourage your government board to meet regularly to create and update a list of strategic goals so that staff can identify which smaller projects can help your organization reach larger objectives.

5. Create a small “seed” innovation or risk fund. Ask your chief executive to budget a small pool of money that groups of employees or community partners can compete to spend on creative ideas. The net gain will offset losses from unsuccessful projects.

6. Engage in proactive media communications. Proactively meet with media representatives so they understand the rationale for the innovative approach.

More tips to come later this week!

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