This is the second post in a two-column series (read the link to part one below) that uses examples from relevant literature to explore what it means to create a culture of innovation in government—excerpted in part from a series of papers on the topic that we will release in the near future. For more information on this project or to be notified when these papers are published, please contact us at tim_burke at hks.harvard.edu.
As part of its efforts to help cities develop and measure their innovation agendas, the Project on Social Innovation has identified three critical areas of focus for public agencies to encourage more innovation: building capacity of local innovators, refining the policy landscape to open ‘space’ for innovation, and promoting a culture of innovation within government and the community.
In part I of this series, we focused not on defining culture but rather on identifying the building blocks and strategies that we associate with culture. More specifically, we introduced two strategies within our framework for encouraging or developing a culture of innovation. The first strategy involves allowing clients to actively participate in their own progress, including the solicitation of their active feedback on programs and services. The second strategy includes rewarding and protecting risk taking activities, as well as recruiting, rewarding and protecting risk takers or innovators. Supporting this strategy, we found Kristina Jaskyte’s 2004 article Transformational Leadership, Organizational Culture, and Innovativeness in Nonprofit Organization useful for identifying tactics for creating a culture in which employees feel empowered to innovate and take risks. Jaskyte suggests that in an innovative workplace, leaders develop a culture that allows staff to take risks and make mistakes. The freedom to share ideas within or to exchange ideas with other organizations opens the door to more thinking, which can, in turn, facilitate new ideas.
[Excerpt, click on the link to read the rest of this post.]
By Samuel Kelley and Time Glynn-Burke