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4 Ways Elected Leaders Can Encourage Innovation In Government

Filed under: Local Politics


Lisa Bodell has written a great article that provides 4 tips for companies interested in encouraging innovation in their organization. Bodell is the founder and CEO of Futurethink, an internationally recognized innovation training firm.

As Bodell points out leaders at the top set the tone that all other employees follow. Far too often the tone set by local government leaders is to not rock the boat in any way. New ideas are not solicited, encouraged or supported in any way. When the boss likes the status quo and is not open to new ideas that tone trickles down to the rank and file.

Bodell highlights four ways that leaders can encourage and promote employees to focus on innovation.

1) Dedicate a Budget – “Assigning a specific fund for innovative projects is the ultimate indicator that senior management is putting its money where its mouth is”.

2) Define and communicate desired behaviors – “Telling people to “be innovative” isn’t specific enough to create a culture that embraces change and new ideas. True leaders know they must define and communicate the innovative behaviors they want to see in order to get the results they need”.

3) Host an idea competition and celebration – “… consider an internal competition between offices and a virtual award ceremony. Invite vendors or partners to participate in subsequent competitions to increase the diversity of perspectives and solutions”.

4) Show tolerance for risk – “At software company Intuit, failure is literally celebrated. Each year, senior leadership gives out the “greatest failure” award to the employee who sticks his or her neck out the most in an effort to move the company forward to a new place. Intuit believes that failures can provide the seed for its next great idea—an outlook that’s proven successful for many other companies”.

There are many ways that local governments can be more innovative in terms of how services are delivered. Leaders at the top need to set the tone that innovation matters and is encouraged.

What do you think about the four ideas stated above as ways to encourage innovation?

  • jimd54

    This sounds a little like what Volkswagon was trying to do down south. Seem like great ideas.