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Characteristics of an Innovation Culture <br />Purpose: Use this job aid as a reference to the five characteristics of an innovation culture.<br />Characteristics of an innovation cultureCharacteristic Indicators What an organization that lacks this characteristic looks like Shows organization-wide commitment to the business and to innovation Innovation is a stated and modeled priorityPeople care deeply about their work, their coworkers, and their company Lack of follow-throughLack of engagement Experiments proactively Tendency to challenge the status quoTendency to redefine value factors and think outside the box of industry standardsWillingness to take risks and try new things The "if it ain't broke, don't fix it'" mentalityPhilosophies such as "we've always done it this way" and "customers like it this way"Managers tend to advance when they deliver results without asking questionsManagers are rewarded for meeting their targets, not for taking risks Manages risk Strike a balance between unrestricted risk taking and overly cautious risk managementIdentify and consider known risk factorsBe realistic about how much risk is reasonable, and work toward managing it People avoid pointing out risk factors for fear of naysaying a boss's pet projectPassion for a project overwhelms critical analysis of its merit Can implement ideas quickly Constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to seizeQuickly make decisions at all stages of the innovation processMust be able to rely on available resources and have competent, efficient teams Projects bog down at key decision-making checkpointsTeams aren't able to execute change quickly enough to maintain a competitive advantage for the organization Produces and cultivates innovators Managers allow new ideas to be heard and discussed Space is provided for innovators to develop and test new productsManagers and employees are rewarded for innovation Failure is discouraged or punishedThere's no "innovation system"Innovation is always top-down <br />Best Practices for Innovation Leaders <br />Purpose: Use this job aid as a guide to the characteristics of an innovation leader and the best practices for attracting and nurturing innovators.<br />Leaders who are able to build and sustain an innovation culture share a few characteristics. Innovation leaders are <br />passionate about innovation<br />willing to experiment<br />realistic and informed<br />capable of rapid project execution, and<br />able to attract and nurture innovators<br />The ability to attract and nurture innovators has a direct bearing on whether innovation can germinate and flourish in your organization and is perhaps the most important characteristic. You can follow a few best practices to attract and nurture innovators within your organization. <br />Expose employees to new ideas <br />Practice "cross-fertilization" when hiring for key positions instead of hiring only from within the existing talent. <br />Create diverse teams.<br />Share ideas and perspectives.<br />Ensure that training, coaching, and resources are available to all employees.<br />Create a sense of ownership and responsibility <br />Make it clear to employees what role they're expected to play in innovation.<br />Be clear to yourself about what you expect<br />Have employees volunteer for projects.<br />Make a space for innovation to occur <br />Build a protective space around the innovators in your organization.<br />Prevent policies or other pressures from interfering with the creative process.<br />Give innovators the resources they need to get to work.<br />See the best ideas and projects through <br />Show a commitment to innovation and provide success stories to point to. <br />Encourage innovators by showing them that their ideas will be implemented. <br />Recognize employees' ideas.<br />Celebrate and reward work that leads to innovation <br />Celebrate individuals' differences.<br />Recognize people for their creativity.<br />Leadership Development Actions <br />Purpose: Use this job aid as a reference to actions you can include in your plan to develop yourself as a leader.<br />Development actions are composed of a variety of formal, informal, directed, and self-directed actions. It's important that the actions you that you choose are aligned with your leadership vision, goals, and objectives. Some common actions include the following: <br />reading and resource aids – Reading is one of the best ways to keep up with your area of expertise, to learn more about leadership, and to keep yourself inspired. Develop the habit of reading books, online sources, professional magazines, and journals.<br />participating in training sessions, programs, courses, and internships – Taking formal training sessions, programs, and classroom or online courses is an efficient way to gain skills and knowledge. Check your organization's training catalog, look into the offerings of local colleges and universities, and search the Internet. Also, many organizations hire college students as interns during the summer months. Internships give people exposure to the workplace and valuable, real-life experience. In return, organizations get the services of dedicated workers.<br />hands-on practice – There are many different ways to practice leadership techniques and strategies on the job, even if you are not currently in a position of leadership. For example, you could become a mentor for someone else, plan and facilitate a meeting, volunteer to give presentations, practice active listening, and develop your own personal guidelines for problem solving, decision making, and planning.<br />journaling – Journaling is especially helpful when you're trying to solve problems, clarify confusions, check your progress, and evaluate training and learning experiences. It's useful for sorting out what you've learned to date, and how you can apply it to your leadership role.<br />volunteering – You can't always get the leadership experiences that you need when you need them. However, some of the same kinds of experiences can be had by joining organizations or volunteering in your community. A community service organization can all give you the opportunity to practice public speaking, give presentations, improve people skills, and show leadership.<br />consulting with peer groups, role models, mentors, and coaches – In addition to identifying activities, you should also identify people who can help you. Find a peer group with which you can discuss your ideas and solicit feedback. Inform your supervisor or manager of your aspirations and check in periodically to assess your progress. And keep an eye out for individuals with expertise in areas where you want to grow.<br />Tools and Techniques for Sustaining the Plan <br />Purpose: Use this job aid as a reference to tools and techniques you can use to sustain your leadership development plan.<br />A leadership development plan is a living document. You must tend to it every day, as you would any other project plan. <br />To help you do this, you can use a number of techniques and tools to sustain your development plan: <br />daily reminders – One easy and effective way to stay focused on your plan is to write daily reminders on sticky notes and put the notes where you'll see them.<br />symbols – Symbols also make good reminders. If you imagine yourself as an eagle in your leadership journey, find an eagle figurine for your desk or use an image of an eagle as a screen saver on your computer. Each time you look at the eagle, your subconscious mind will reinforce your vision.<br />activities that help you reflect – A third way to stay focused is with activities that you do every day. Running, exercising, yoga, or meditation provide an excellent opportunity for reflecting on your journey, your plan, and yourself.<br />back-up plans – Another important way to sustain your plan is to have back-up plans, support, and reinforcement at the ready for when you confront obstacles.<br />rewards – And finally, it's important to build in rewards for celebrating your interim achievements. Every achievement, no matter how small, deserves a reward.<br />