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Fostering Innovation

Definition
Fostering Innovation is developing, sponsoring or supporting the introduction of new and improved methods, products, procedures, or technologies.
Behaviors
An employee demonstrating this competency:
  • Personally develops a new product or service.
  • Personally develops a new method or approach.
  • Sponsors the development of new products, services, methods, or procedures.
  • Proposes new approaches, methods, or technologies.
  • Develops better, faster, or less expensive ways to do things.
  • Works cooperatively with others to produce innovative solutions.
Importance of this Competency
Successfully implementing this competency leads to new and improved products and services and new, more effective work processes and procedures which enable quantum leaps in productivity and profitability. The increased competitiveness of the workplace places a premium on this competency; companies that do not innovate will not survive. The total quality movement, by embracing continuous improvement, is based on this competency, as is reengineering: the process of reviewing and totally reconstructing work processes. Rapid developments in information technology also create pressures and opportunities for innovation.
General Considerations in Developing this Competency
At an individual level, this competency requires creativity and commitment to quality. Individuals can develop this competency by learning about creative problem solving methods and by honing their technical skills. But significant innovation also requires organizational support. The organization must provide incentives, rewards, structures and training to promote innovation. This requires leaders who value innovation and have the organizational savvy to implement the changes necessary to support it. Promoting and implementing innovation requires communication and influence skills, which are addressed under the competencies Persuasive Communication and Influencing Others.
Practicing this Competency
  • Volunteer to work on a team attempting to improve a product, process or service. Then work with the team to generate ideas for improvement, select and refine the ideas, and implement them.
  • Read a book to identify a technique for problem solving or creative thinking. Apply the technique in your own work or with a team.
  • Develop and implement an improvement in a product, service or work process in your work unit.
Obtaining Feedback
If you are a manager, ask the people who work for you what you can do to help foster innovation, both within the unit and through cooperation with other groups.
Learning from Experts
Interview someone who successfully developed or sponsored the development of a significant innovation. Consider people both within and outside of your organization. Ask for a detailed account of what the person did and how. Make a list of ideas that you can implement yourself.
Coaching Suggestions for Managers
If you are coaching someone who is trying to develop the compentency, you can:
  • Provide opportunities for training in areas such as problem solving and change management.
  • Provide opportunities for training in technical skills needed for innovation in a particular area.
  • Assign the person to teams involved in developing innovations or in implementing change.
  • Recognize and reward innovative behavior.
Sample Development Goals
By May 3, I will complete the AMA self study course in creative problem solving and prepare a list of ideas that I can apply in my own work.

During the spring, I will volunteer to serve on an improvement team and contribute actively.

By July 14, I will form a team to identify and implement improvements in our commercialization process.
Resources

Books

Elements of Innovation, by Thomas E. Ambler, M. Dana Baldwin, Robert W. Bradford, J. Peter Duncan, & Denise A. Harrison. Southport, CT: Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, 2004.

Enabling Innovation: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Fostering Technological Change, by Boru Douthwaite. London, UK: Zed Books, 2002.

Enabling Knowledge Creation: How to Unlock the Mystery of Tacit Knowledge and Release the Power of Innovation, by Georg Von Krogh, Kazuo Ichijo, & Ikujiro Nonaka. New York, NY: Oxford  University  Press,  2000.

Innovation Management: Strategies, Implementation, and Profits, by Allan Afuah. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Innovation: The Five Disciplines for Creating What Customers Want, by Curtis R. Carlson & William W. Wilmot. New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group, 2006.

Leading for Innovation: & Organizing For Results, by Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, & Iain Somerville. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001.

Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity, by A. D. Amar. Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 2001.

Open Services Innovation: Rethinking Your Business to Grow and Compete in a New Era, by Henry Chesbrough. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011.

ROI: Return On Innovation, by Bill Dresselhaus. Clackamus, OR: Dresselhaus Design Group, Inc., 2000.

The Seeds of Innovation: Cultivating the Synergy That Fosters New Ideas, by Elaine Dundon. New York, NY: AMACOM, 2002.

Total Quality Management: An Executive Guide to Continuous Improvement, by Hubert K. Rampersad. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag, 2001.

Understanding and Implementing Quality, by Jiju Anthony. New York, NY: Routledge, 2002.

When Sparks Fly: Harnessing the Power of Group Creativity, by Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2005.

Winning through Innovation: A Practical Guide to Leading Organizational Change and Renewal, by Charles A. O’Reilly III & Michael L. Tushman. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.

 

Self-Study Courses

Ten Steps for Innovating with Speed. Webcast. American Management Association. Tel. 800 250-5308. http://www.amanet.org/training/webcasts/Innovating-with-Speed.aspx

 

Total Quality Management. American Management Association. Tel. 800 250-5308. http://www.amanet.org/selfstudy/b14461.htm

 

EXTERNAL COURSES

Accelerated Innovation & Creativity Training® Workshop. Two days. SolutionPeople. Tel. 312-829-2852. http://www.solutionpeople.com/training.htm

Building, Leading, and Sustaining the Innovative Organization. Two days. MIT Sloan. Tel. 617-253-7166  http://executive.mit.edu/openenrollment/

Creativity and Innovation: Unleash Your Potential for Greater Success. Two days. American Management Association. Tel. 877 566-9441.  www.amanet.org/seminars/seminar.cfm?basesemno=2208

Customer-Focused Innovation.  Five days. Stanford Graduate School of Business. Tel. 650.723.3341 http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/exed/cfi/

Leading Innovation: Creating and Sustaining a Climate for Growth. Two days. American Management Association. Tel. 877 566-9441. http://www.amanet.org/seminars/seminar.cfm?basesemno=2131

Polarity Leadership: Managing Complexity, Change and Conflict. Three Days. United States Office of Personnel Management. Tel 202 606-1800. https://www.leadership.opm.gov/Programs/Executive-Development/EXE0064/Index.aspx   

Right Brain/Left Brain Thinking. One day. MRA - The Management Association, Inc. Tel. 800 488-4845. http://www.mratraining.com/CourseDetail.asp?id=1891 


EXTERNAL RESOURCES

See Appendix 

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