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BSBINN801 Lead Innovative Thinking and Practice

UNIT INTRODUCTION

This resource covers the unit BSBINN801 - Lead innovative thinking and practice.

This unit describes the skills and knowledge required to generate, lead and sustain innovative organisational thinking and practice.

It applies to individuals who initiate and lead innovation in any industry or community context. Each organisation’s thinking and practice will be different depending on its core business, purpose, size, complexity and broader operating context.

No licensing, legislative, regulatory or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of publication.

ABOUT THIS RESOURCE

This resource brings together information to develop your knowledge about this unit. The information is designed to reflect the requirements of the unit and uses headings to makes it easier to follow.

Read through this resource to develop your knowledge in preparation for your assessment. You will be required to complete the assessment tools that are included in your program. At the back of the resource are a list of references you may find useful to review.

As a student it is important to extend your learning and to search out text books, internet sites, talk to people at work and read newspaper articles and journals which can provide additional learning material.

Your trainer may include additional information and provide activities, slide presentations, and assessments in class to support your learning.

ABOUT ASSESSMENT

Throughout your training we are committed to your learning by providing a training and assessment framework that ensures the knowledge gained through training is translated into practical on the job improvements.

You are going to be assessed for:

  • Your skills and knowledge using written and observation activities that apply to your workplace.
  • Your ability to apply your learning.
  • Your ability to recognise common principles and actively use these on the job.

You will receive an overall result of Competent or Not Yet Competent for the assessment of this unit. The assessment is a competency based assessment, which has no pass or fail. You are either competent or not yet competent. Not Yet Competent means that you still are in the process of understanding and acquiring the skills and knowledge required to be marked competent. The assessment process is made up of a number of assessment methods. You are required to achieve a satisfactory result in each of these to be deemed competent overall.

All of your assessment and training is provided as a positive learning tool. Your assessor will guide your learning and provide feedback on your responses to the assessment. For valid and reliable assessment of this unit, a range of assessment methods will be used to assess practical skills and knowledge.

Your assessment may be conducted through a combination of the following methods:

  • Written Activity
  • Case Study
  • Observation
  • Questions
  • Third Party Report

The assessment tool for this unit should be completed within the specified time period following the delivery of the unit. If you feel you are not yet ready for assessment, discuss this with your trainer and assessor.

To be successful in this unit you will need to relate your learning to your workplace. You may be required to demonstrate your skills and be observed by your assessor in your workplace environment. Some units provide for a simulated work environment and your trainer and assessor will outline the requirements in these instances.

Element and performance criteria

1 Generate innovative thinking and creativity

1.1 Research and use a range of techniques and tools to generate new ideas and thinking

1.2 Research and analyse trends shaping organisation’s current and future thinking and practice

1.3 Introduce and promote creative thinking techniques to foster personal and team innovation

1.4 Evaluate overall context for individual and collective innovative thinking and creativity

1.5 Research and analyse specific conditions for innovation and issues that impact on individual and collective innovative thinking and creativity

1.6 Research and review innovation drivers and enablers

2 Lead innovative practices

2.1 Develop personal leadership style to model positive innovative thinking and practice

2.2 Review, challenge and refine own style and practice in relation to modelling and supporting innovation

2.3 Assess and determine the requirements to promote sustainable innovative activity for the operational context and people involved

2.4 Devise and implement most appropriate means to promote knowledge transfer

2.5 Identify, evaluate and manage risks associated with innovation within an organisation

3 Generate and support a culture of innovation

3.1 Introduce and promote innovative practices, processes, products or services appropriate to audience and organisational requirements

3.2 Establish ways to capture, communicate and share innovative ideas and practices

3.3 Initiate and foster communication, consultation and team development approaches that support innovation

3.4 Identify, assess and provide adequate resources for innovation to occur

3.5 Develop and apply strategies to foster a workplace culture capable of encouraging innovation

3.6 Establish mechanisms at system and process level that can support innovation

4 Sustain innovative thinking and practice

4.1 Develop strategies to make innovation an integral part of organisational activity

4.2 Develop and monitor processes to ensure ongoing awareness of individual and collective contributions to innovative thinking and practice

4.3 Analyse potential barriers and risks to innovation and devise strategies to respond

4.4 Analyse and reflect on innovation performance as a basis for developing strategies for improvement

PERFORMANCE EVIDENCE AND knowledge evidence

This describes the essential knowledge and skills and their level required for this unit.

PERFORMANCE EVIDENCE

Evidence of the ability to:

  • Use various techniques and tools to stimulate creative or innovative thinking
  • Research, review and critically analyse trends in thinking and emerging practices as they relate to an organisation’s current thinking and practices
  • Develop own capacity to lead innovative thinking and practice in an organisational context
  • Complete a workplace project or case study to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding and application of key concepts, current theories and processes for introducing, communicating, promoting, supporting and sustaining innovative thinking and practices in an organisational context.

Note: If a specific volume or frequency is not stated, then evidence must be provided at least once.

KNOWLEDGE EVIDENCE

To complete the unit requirements safely and effectively, the individual must:

  • Compare and contrast current and past theories and thinking about innovation
  • Explain how theory and thinking on innovation and creativity can contribute to applied practice
  • Discuss the impact of leadership style on innovation in organisations, including how specific approaches may encourage or inhibit innovation
  • Discuss the relevance of organisational and industry context on innovation
  • Analyse the internal and external conditions or factors that impact on organisational innovation
  • Outline strategies for identifying, assessing and managing risks associated with innovation
  • Provide examples of innovation drivers in an organisation
  • Provide examples of innovation enablers in an organisation
  • List and describe mechanisms at system or process level that can support innovative practices
  • Discuss typical challenges and barriers to innovation within an organisation and ways of overcoming these challenges and barriers.

Assessment Conditions

Assessment must be conducted in a safe environment where evidence gathered demonstrates consistent performance of typical activities experienced in the creativity and innovation field of work and include access to:

  • Workplace documentation and resources
  • Office equipment and materials
  • Case studies or, where available, real situations
  • Interaction with others.


Assessors must satisfy NVR/AQTF assessor requirements.

Pre-Requisites

This unit must be assessed after the following pre-requisite unit:

There are no pre-requisites for this unit.

Topic 1 – Generate innovative thinking and creativity

Research and use a range of techniques and tools to generate new ideas and thinking

Welcome to the unit BSBINN801 Lead innovative thinking and practice. This unit describes the skills and knowledge required to generate, lead and sustain innovative organisational thinking and practice. It applies to individuals who initiate and lead innovation in any industry or community context. Each organisation’s thinking and practice will be different depending on its core business, purpose, size, complexity and broader operating context. No licensing, legislative, regulatory or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of publication.

In this unit, you will learn how to generate innovative thinking and creativity, lead innovative practices, generate and support a culture of innovation, and sustain innovative thinking and practices. Let’s begin!

Explain how Theory and Thinking on Innovation and Creativity can Contribute to Applied Practice

In this unit, you will learn a considerable amount of theory on innovation and creativity, and you will be encouraged to think in detail about these topics. Theory and thinking make an important contribution to applied practice – that is, how you apply innovation and creativity in your work. If you have a comprehensive understanding of the theories underpinning innovation and creativity, you will be better prepared to be innovative and creative – and to foster innovation and creativity – in your work. As you progress through this unit, you should constantly reflect on how you can apply the information presented to your own work context, so you can lead innovation and creativity.

In your role, it is important that you research and use a range of techniques and tools to generate new ideas and thinking. Examples of techniques and tools to generate new ideas and thinking include:

  • Brainstorming
  • Concept maps
  • Creative thinking matrices
  • DeBono tools (e.g. the six hats of creative thinking)
  • Foresight tools
  • The Kirton Adaption Innovation Inventory
  • Buzan’s mind-mapping technique
  • The nominal group technique
  • Scenario analysis

You can find out more about these techniques and tools to generate new ideas and thinking, and how to use them, by researching them. Research can be undertaken in a variety of ways – consider the following examples:

  • By reading about these techniques and tools – for example, in leadership and management textbooks, or on trustworthy websites (e.g. Mind Tools), etc.
  • By speaking with people about these tools – including people who understand these tools (e.g. experts in innovation and creativity in your field of practice), and people with knowledge about how these tools could be applied in your organisation (e.g. your work supervisor, organisation manager, colleagues, etc.)
  • By attending training (e.g. workshops, conferences, etc.),
  • By observing how these techniques and tools are applied to foster innovation and creativity, both in your own and other organisations

In addition to researching these techniques and tools to generate new ideas and thinking, it is important that you use these – that is, that you apply them in your work. How you do this depends on a variety of factors – including the type of work you undertake, the context of innovation and creativity your organisation operates in, and the type(s) of techniques and tools you use, etc. Consider the following examples:

  • You are working with a team of colleagues to plan the implementation of a new project, which has just received funding. You use deBono’s six thinking hats technique to better understand how the project can be effectively undertaken
  • You are working on a project which encounters a major barrier. You bring the project team together to use brainstorming techniques to develop a solution. You also use scenario analysis to identify why the barrier may have occurred
  • You have been asked to take over the leadership of a complex project, one with multiple key stakeholders. You use a concept mapping technique to identify, and better understand, the relationships between these stakeholders

In this introductory section of the unit, it is important to note that you must be developing the following foundation skills:

  • The learning skills to evaluate and reflect on your personal effectiveness, to develop strategies to enhance your own performance
  • The reading skills to identify, interpret and evaluate visual / textual information from a range of sources to identify innovation strategies, practices, trends
  • The writing skills to use clear and precise language to document research findings for reference purposes; and to develop complex plans, strategies and systems to integrate innovation into the organisation using appropriate forms for the audience and purpose
  • The oral communication skills to discuss, present and seek information using an appropriate structure / language for an audience; and to use questioning / active listening to encourage discussion and to clarify understanding
  • The numeracy skills to interpret, analyse and present numeric / financial information in complex documents
  • The skills to navigate the world of work, including to understand how your own role meshes with others and contributes to broader work goals; and to lead the development of strategies to integrate innovative practices into the organisation
  • The skills to integrate with others, including to use a variety of relevant communication tools and strategies to build and maintain effective working relationships; to use inclusive and collaborative techniques to communicate, negotiate and consult effectively with a range of stakeholders; and to actively seek the perspectives of others as part of the work role
  • The skills to get the work done, including to plan, develop implement and monitor practical strategies to introduce and support innovation in the workplace; to develop new and innovative ideas through exploration, evaluation, analysis and critical thinking; and to use formal analytical and lateral thinking techniques to identify issues, generate and evaluate possible solutions, and select the most appropriate option

You will have the opportunity to develop and practice these skills as you progress through this unit. If you feel you require additional support to develop these skills, you should seek this from your training or employing organisation, as appropriate.

Research and analyse trends shaping organisation’s current and future thinking and practice

Research, Review and Critically Analyse Trends in Thinking and Emerging Practices as they Relate to your Organisation’s Current Thinking and Practices

In your role, it is important that you understand the trends in thinking and emerging practices, which relate to your organisation’s current and future thinking and practices. Essentially, this means understanding: (1) the ways in which your organisation thinks about and undertakes its current activities, particularly in relation to how it is innovative and creative, and (2) how this impacts your organisation’s future activities. Understanding these important pieces of information can improve the way you lead innovative and creative thinking and practice in your work.

To understand the trends shaping your organisation’s current and future thinking and practice, you should research these. Research can be undertaken in a variety of ways – consider the following examples:

  • By becoming aware of trends in the field in which you work – for example, by reading industry journals and websites, attending industry events, etc.
  • By reading about trends affecting your organisation specifically – for example, by reading past reports (in particular, your organisation’s annual reports)
  • By speaking with people – both within, and external to, you organisation – about the trends which affect the industry, and how these might change in the future

It is also important that you review and criticallyanalyse the trends shaping your organisation’s current and future thinking and practice. This involves thinking deeply about these trends, in order to develop a comprehensive understanding about them and how they affect your organisation. In reviewing and critically analysing trends, you should aim to answer questions such as:

  • How has the trend affected past organisational activities? How is it affecting current activities? How might it affect future activities?
  • How has the trend shaped your organisation’s thinking – in a positive, neutral or negative way? How might this change in the future – and why?
  • How is the trend progressing – in a downward, neutral or upward direction?
  • What is driving the trend (e.g. concerns about cost, the availability of resources, customer preferences, etc.)? How might these drivers change in future?

Compare and Contrast Current and Past Theories and Thinking about Innovation

In your role, it is important that you are able to compare and contrast current and past theories about thinking and innovation:

  • In the past, thinking and innovation was focused solely on improving the operation and profitability of the business – for example, to develop new products, implement new processes and identify new strategies, etc., to make the organisation more efficient and cost-effective. Thinking and innovation were often inflexible – that is, they lacked a true creative element
  • Currently, theories about thinking and innovation are focused more broadly on creating a well-balanced workforce, a collaborative work environment, and a context where people are encouraged to think ‘outside-the-box’ and to not fear failure, etc. Although this makes an organisation more efficient and cost-effective, it also has broader benefits for the organisation and the industry / community

Read the following about some of the common current theories about thinking and innovation, and how they have changed from past theories and thinking:

Disruptive Innovation: One of the most important theories of innovation, but one which is usually completely misunderstood. Put simply, it theorises that small companies can disrupt the market of large companies by releasing a new version of an offering which appeals more to a subset of the customers. In many cases, the small company releases a new technology which is inferior in quality or performance to that of the large company, but makes up for it in another way, like a lower price or convenience. Over time and iteration, this new technology will begin improving to handle more demanding uses.

Dual Innovation: One of the most challenging aspects of innovation for most companies is not the generating of ideas, or the development of new innovations. Instead, it is integrating new innovations into the business without affecting the performance of core business operations negatively. This is something a large number of companies struggle with. Even if they have agreed on the importance of innovation and have set up teams or departments to develop new value-adding, innovative products and services, these may end up never being launched because nobody will take responsibility for the risk.

‘Ambidextrous organisations’, on the other hand, are companies which have set themselves up to do three things: (1) effectively run their core business, (2) develop, test and validate innovations outside of their core business and (3) integrate a number of the best innovations back into the core business in a reliable manner. This builds the skills, capabilities and processes within a company to make the transition of innovations into the core business more likely to take hold.

Open Innovation: This is the process by which a company can set a challenge that they want ideas for, and gather ideas from hundreds, thousands or hundreds of thousands of people, both within their organisation and externally. Historically, companies may have used systems like suggestion boxes or an email address where people could send their ideas, but more often than not, the ideas sent in didn’t go anywhere, leading to frustration in both the leadership (who could not organise and evaluate ideas) and the people who submitted them.

However, recently there have been a number of startups providing a software solution to enable companies to set up innovation challenges, have thousands of people submit their ideas, and then evaluate and manage these ideas in a more structured way. Whether you call it Open Innovation, Idea Management, Innovation Management Systems or Crowdsourcing, the concept is pretty similar.

Lean Innovation: Inspired by a number of lean startup principles, Lean Innovation is a framework to manage innovation projects in a more agile way than traditional project management. For example, instead of asking managers to develop a full business case with lifetime costs and risks to ask for budget for a full project (which is often highly inaccurate and purely guesswork for innovation projects), a manager might only be required to ask for budget to do an initial set of experiments to test the market for an idea. This can lead to a much larger number of innovations being tested much more quickly, for a lower cost and at a lower risk than traditional management methods.

Design Thinking: One of the most popular but misused terms going through the business community today is Design Thinking. Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems and find desirable solutions for clients. A design mindset is not problem-focused, it’s solution focused and action oriented towards creating a preferred future. Usually, it involves a company spending time with users to find out what their current everyday experiences are, and use those to find insights into what the real underlying challenges are and how they might be addressed.

Contrary to what some people say, it is not just about the “design stages” of product development (initial sketches, graphic design, prototyping etc.). Instead, imagine it more as a collection of processes which lead to a better understanding of the needs of a user and ways to find solutions to those needs.

Portfolio Management: Portfolio management is the selection, prioritisation and control of an organisation’s projects and programmes in line with its strategic objectives and capacity to deliver. The goal is to balance innovation programmes, change initiatives and business-as-usual while optimising resource usage, risk and return on investment. Traditionally, portfolio management (if it happened at all) would be handled by the central team covering the programme management of various projects in a company, often called a Programme Management Office (PMO), and it would help evaluate which projects should be invested in, plan them, track progress and handle risks and issues.

Adapted from Skillicorn, 2017.

Introduce and promote creative thinking techniques to foster personal and team innovation

Use Various Techniques and tools To Stimulate Creative or Innovative Thinking

In your role, it is important that you use various techniques and tools to stimulate creative or innovative thinking – both in yourself, and in those you work with. Remember: these techniques and tools are, simply, processes which help people to be creative or innovative in the way the think about the organisation’s activities, and their own work tasks. Examples of different techniques and tools – and strategies you can use to research their use, to enable you to apply them effectively in your work – were provided in an earlier section of this unit; you should revise this section now.

In order for techniques and tools to stimulate creative or innovative thinking to be used in your organisation, you must introduce and promote them to the people in your organisation. You must carefully consider the ways(s) in which you introduce and promote these tools and techniques to your colleagues, so that they embrace these (rather than becoming sceptical of, confused by or even resistant to them). This section of the unit will describe a process you can use to introduce and promote creative thinking techniques in your workplace; in implementing this process, you should work within your organisation’s policies and procedures.

The first step in this process is often to develop a change plan. Work with appropriate people to make decisions about how your organisation organisation will use different techniques and tools to stimulate creative or innovative thinking. Then, document these decisions, using a change plan template (note that these can be found online, or your organisation may also have its own template). This documentation is important, because it helps to communicate the details of the change to others in the workplace.

Once you have developed a change plan, the next step in the process is to create a drive for change – that is, for the use of the techniques and tools to stimulate creative or innovative thinking – amongst others in your organisation. Clearly communicate the rationale underpinning the need for change, and share solid evidence of the need for the change. Identify the threats which may be resolved by making the change, and the opportunities which would be created, and describe these in detail. The aim of this step is to get people ‘on board’ with the change. You may use techniques such as negotiation, or appointing change ‘agents’ or ‘champions’ (i.e. others in your organisation who are supportive of the use of techniques and tools to stimulate creative or innovative thinking, and who can help convince others of their value / educate others in their use).

Promoting the benefits of change is essential in create a drive for change amongst others in your organisation – that is, in getting people ‘on board’ with the change, and motivated to achieve changes in their own work practices. Read the following:

Change is often necessary but can be frightening for employees. Common reactions to change include anger, denial, opposition and depression. You must illustrate to others the benefits of change so that they, hopefully, develop an excited and positive attitude. Point out how change brings with it new ideas and opportunities. Review the following benefits of change:

Change promotes new ways of thinking: Changes compel individuals to think in new and exciting ways. Creative thinking benefits the workplace with the development of many innovations and ideas that can be utilised to keep the organisation exciting and fruitful

Change breaks the monotony: A monotonous job bores employees who need to be given variety to excel. Change often provides the refreshment a worker needs to refocus his energy and increase his interest. Counsel employees on this fact as you share their new responsibilities with them. Talk about the change in a positive, energetic manner and compliment workers on their flexibility

Change presents new opportunities: The incorporation of changes such as cross-training employees, flexibility in job descriptions and development of specialised work teams can substantially increase productivity. More productivity generally equals greater profits that can be enjoyed by both management and staff

Change encourages skills growth: Changes can require employees to master new skills so they can accomplish new duties. Provide the means necessary for staff members to learn new software and methods for completing particular tasks. Offer incentives such as tuition reimbursement to employees willing to take classes that teach particular skills needed for the expansion of the organisation

Adapted from Mooney, 2016.

There may be a range of benefits of change – for both an organisation generally, and its employees specifically. The above reading described some of the broader benefits of change; however, you should also consider those which are directly relevant to your organisation and its employees. It is these benefits which will be the most meaningful to those in your organisation – and, therefore, most likely to be effective in motivating them to achieve change (that is, to use the techniques and tools described).

For example: in the context of techniques and tools to stimulate creative or innovative thinking, enhanced personal and team innovation is a key benefit of change. Using techniques and tools to stimulate creative or innovative thinking can foster innovation: (1) at the individual level and, therefore, (2) at the team-level. This can improve the way individuals and teams perform their roles – which can generate a variety of benefits.

It is important that you introduce and promote specific techniques and tools to stimulate creative or innovative thinking to the people in your organisation. You may do so in a variety of ways – consider the following examples:

  • In face-to-face conversations with your colleagues (informal and formal)
  • During work unit meetings (e.g. you may do a presentation on techniques and tools to stimulate creative or innovative thinking)
  • In an e-newsletter, or other e-mailouts to staff
  • Via a hard-copy flier, placed in staff mailboxes
  • In an advertisement on the organisation’s intranet homepage
  • Via posters, placed in common areas such as tea-rooms or noticeboards
  • In network messages, which ‘pop up’ at prescribed times on computer screens
  • Via online social media platforms, if used and approved by your organisation
  • Using self-paced or more formal training materials

In introducing and promoting techniques and tools to stimulate creative or innovative thinking, it may be necessary for you to educate and train people in your organisation on their effective use. It is therefore important that you are familiar with basic instruction design principles. The term ‘instructional design’ refers to the ways in which training programs are designed, to facilitate the participants’ learning and skills development. Some of the basic principles of instructional design are:

  • Learning is promoted when people are engaged in solving real-world problems
  • Existing knowledge / skills / experience should be used as a foundation for the development of new knowledge / skills / experience, where possible
  • New knowledge / skills / experience should be demonstrated and applied by the learner, either formally (e.g. in assessments) or informally (e.g. in their work)
  • New knowledge / skills / experience should be integrated into the learner’s world, including in their day-to-day work
  • Learning programs should be based on people’s: (a) requirements for new knowledge / skills / experience, and (b) preferred learning styles

It is important that the learning programs you design meet the needs of people with a variety of different learning styles. There are three key learning styles – visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. It is important to note that most adult learners fall into at least one, and often more than one, of these categories. Read the following:

STYLE

DESCRIPTION

INSTRUCTIONAL PRINCIPLES

Visual

Learn by seeing and watching – for example, pictures, diagrams, videos or demonstrations, etc.

Remember what they see

Like viewing diagrams, pictures

Prefer to read / write than listen

Need an overall view / purpose

Like written handouts, take notes

Auditory

Learn by listening to spoken words

Can follow verbal instructions

Like to hear someone explain

Enjoy debating, discussing

Talk to themselves when learning

Like reading aloud

Kinaesthetic

Learn by being actively in involved in activities, and applying information

Often take notes, draw pictures

Remember best what they did

Memorise by seeing, watching

Like ‘hands-on’ activities

Enjoy group interaction

It is also important to be familiar with the principles of adult learning:

Adults are internally-motivated and self-directed.

Adults bring life experience and knowledge to their learning.

  • Adults are goal oriented
  • Adults are relevancy oriented
  • Adults are practical
  • Adult learners like to be respected

Queensland Occupational Therapy Council, ND.

Remember: should be thoughtful about the ways in which you introduce and promote techniques and tools to stimulate creative or innovative thinking to others in your organisation – particularly if others are resistant to such changes. A variety of small prompts, such as those in the list above, will help to get staff thinking about the benefits of change, and may also make them feel more comfortable in raising and addressing their concerns in relation to the change. However, be cautious to avoid ‘overwhelming’ others in your organisation with information about the benefits of the change, as this may cause them to become more skeptical of the change or simply to ‘switch off’.

Evaluate overall context for individual and collective innovative thinking and creativity

Discuss the Relevance of Organisational and Industry Context on Innovation

In your role, it is important that you evaluate the overall context for innovative and creative thinking at both the individual level and the collective level – including: (1) the organisational context, and (2) the broader industry context. Considering the organisational and industry context is relevant for a number of reasons:

  • It supports you to identify the ways innovation / creativity can be achieved
  • It helps you to understand the specific conditions for innovation / creativity, including the resources required to promote innovation / creativity
  • It enables you to identify the drivers / enablers of innovation / creativity
  • It allows you to determine the requirements to promote sustainable innovation
  • It helps you to identify and address barriers / risks to innovation / creativity

You will study these concepts in detail throughout later sections of this unit.

Analyse the Internal and External Conditions or Factors that Impact on Organisational Innovation

Remember: you must be able to evaluate the overall context for individual and collective innovative thinking and creativity. The ‘overall’ context includes:

  • The culture of the environment in which innovation / creativity takes place
  • The electronic and non-physical environment
  • The local / regional, national and global environment
  • The work group or community which exists in an environment

In understanding the overall context for individual and collective innovative thinking and creativity, you should analyse:

  • The internal conditions or factors that impact on organisation innovation – such as your organisation’s strategic plan, its available resources, its philosophy, etc.
  • The external conditions or factors that impact on organisation innovation – such as industry trends, changing consumer preferences, market factors, etc.

Research and analyse specific conditions for innovation and issues that impact on individual and collective innovative thinking and creativity

In your role, it is important that you are able to identify specific conditions for innovation and creativity. These can also be thought of as issues or mechanism which impact – both positively and negatively – on innovation / creativity at the individual and the collective levels. These conditions for, and issues that impact on, innovation may span causal factors and issues relating to:

  • The ability to gain and respond to customer feedback
  • Available resources (in all their forms)
  • Business systems
  • Changes to workflow and processes
  • Competency, capability and skills of the workforce
  • Culture and values
  • Economic change
  • Emerging technologies
  • Executive support for innovation
  • A variety of internal and external issues (as you saw in the previous section)
  • Issues related to globalisation
  • Government regulations, policy or funding initiatives
  • Labour market and industry changes and restructures
  • The learning culture in the organisation or the industry
  • Management practices
  • New business models
  • New markets
  • Organisational sociocultural circumstances and issues
  • Research and development focus and support
  • Shift to knowledge economy or new economy
  • Structure and design of work in the organisation
  • Technology change and convergence
  • Vision, core purpose and capabilities

It is important that you research the conditions for, and issues that impact on, innovation. Remember: research can be undertaken in a variety of ways:

  • By becoming aware of issues in the field in which you work – for example, by reading industry journals and websites, attending industry events, etc.
  • By reading about issues affecting your organisation specifically – for example, by reading past reports (in particular, your organisation’s annual reports)
  • By speaking with people – both within, and external to, you organisation – about the issues which affect the industry generally, and your organisation specifically

In researching the conditions for, and issues that impact on, innovation, it is also important that you analyse these. Essentially, this means critically evaluating these conditions / issues, to develop an understanding of how they impact innovation in your own organisation – and the reasons for these impacts. To develop this understanding, you should conduct research which is specific to your organisation and its context.

List and Describe Mechanisms at the System and Process Levels that can Support Innovative Practices

This section of the unit has described the issues or mechanism that impact – both positively and negatively – on innovation / creativity at the individual and the collective levels. It is particularly important that you are able to describe the mechanisms which can support innovative practices. These mechanisms occur:

  • At the system-level – that is, at the level of the organisation or the workgroup
  • At the process level – that is, at the point at which people and teams undertake activities to fulfil work tasks and achieve work outcomes, etc.

There are a variety of mechanisms which can support innovative practices – consider the following examples:

  • Flexibility in how people undertake their work and achieve work outcomes
  • Employees who have the skills and confidence to engage in innovation
  • The provision of training to enable and empower employees to be innovative
  • Support for innovation – for example, through the provision of time / resources
  • Collaboration with other people / organisations who use innovative approaches
  • Established policies and procedures which clearly support innovation
  • Reward and recognition for innovative practices and approaches
  • Organisational managers who lead innovatively (i.e. lead by example)

Research and review innovation drivers and enablers

Provide Examples of Innovation Drivers and Innovation Enablers in an Organisation

In your role, it is important that you are able to research and review the drivers of, and enablers to, innovation. In doing so, you will be able to provide examples of the drivers of, an enablers to, innovation in organisations generally, and in your own organisation specifically. This section of the unit will consider these concepts in greater detail.

Drivers are factors or changes that impel innovative practice. They may include:

  • Customer expectations
  • Globalisation
  • Market shifts
  • New legislation (e.g. compliance) or policies (e.g. environmental protection)
  • Price and profitability
  • Technology changes

Enablers are factors that help innovation overcome barriers. They may include:

  • Breakthroughs, research, development, inventions, etc.
  • Collaboration
  • Culture
  • Intellectual property
  • Management support
  • Profitability
  • Resources
  • Responsiveness
  • Skilled workforce
  • Technology

Remember: it is important that you research and review innovation drivers and enables. Understanding the drivers and enablers of innovation will allow you to harness these – and, therefore, be more effective in the way you lead innovative thinking and practice in your organisation. Strategies for research and analysis have been described throughout previous sections of the unit; you should revise these sections now.

Topic 2 – Lead innovative practices

Develop personal leadership style to model positive innovative thinking and practice, and Review, challenge and refine own style and practice in relation to modelling and supporting innovation

It is important that you are able to lead innovative thinking and practices in your organisation. To do this effectively, you must be familiar with the different leadership styles. There are a number of different types of leadership styles – for example:

  • Transformational leadership – this style of leadership depends on high levels of communication between leaders and a employees; this leadership style facilitates productivity and efficiency in the organisation’s of its goals
  • Transactional leadership – this style of leadership involves leaders providing rewards (or punishments) based on employees’ performance in tasks / activities
  • Participative leadership – this style of leadership values the input of employees, though decision-making responsibility ultimately rests with the leader
  • Autocratic leadership – this style of leadership allows leaders to make decisions alone and unchallenged, without the participation of others
  • Laissez-faire leadership – this can be thought of as ‘hands-off’ leadership; this type of leader may be perceived as disengaged, leading to reduced productivity

Develop Own Capacity to Lead Innovative Thinking and Practice in an Organisational Context

It is important that you review, challenge, refine and develop your own personal leadership style, to model and support positive and innovative thinking and practice in your organisation. This involves a process of:

  • Critically analysing about the leadership style you currently use – is it consistent with your ‘natural’ leadership style, and does it promote innovation/ creativity?
  • Considering the leadership styles which promote innovation / creativity (described later in this section), and reviewing how you can apply the key aspects of these leadership styles in your own work
  • Completing research, or undertaking education / training, etc., to develop these aspects of your personal leadership style, if required
  • Practicing the application of new leadership strategies / innovation in your work

In considering different leadership styles, it is important that you have an understanding of the characteristics of effective leadership:

Leadership development is vital because organisations take on the personality of their leaders. Effective leadership can maximise productivity, shape a positive culture and promote harmony. To achieve this, key people must lead individuals and teams using an appropriate leadership style.

Leadership is never easy. No matter how effortlessly some leaders appear to manage, the path of a leader is one fraught with constant challenge and surprise. However, the leader does not face the challenge alone. By definition, a leader has a group or organisation working to meet each challenge and achieve each goal. The leader's job is not to solve every problem alone, but to inspire those he or she leads to solve the problems. Good leaders recognise that they do not have all the answers and are constantly reeducating themselves on their businesses and sharpening their leadership skills.

Leadership Training, 2017.

Effective leaders are those who:

  • Strive to continually improve their organisation
  • Are able to accurately represent their organisation’s goals and expectations
  • Are effective communicators, and able to engage different people
  • Have something to contribute (e.g. skills, knowledge, experience, passion)
  • Are frontrunners, not waiting for others to ‘get the job done’

There are a variety of characteristics of effective leaders – including:

  • Integrity – that is, people trust and respect the person – and accountability
  • Courage to address issues others have identified as ‘too difficult’
  • Commitment to continue working on a task even when challenges arise
  • The ability to care, genuinely, about others in the organisation
  • The capacity to be creative and flexible, and an eagerness to learn and adapt
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, with the ability to mobilise others
  • The ability to be forward-thinking, or to have a vision of the future organisation
  • The ability to practice stewardship (i.e. getting people to assume responsibility)
  • The ability to effectively delegate tasks in an appropriate and effective way

Discuss the Impact of Leadership Style on Innovation in Organisations, including how Specific Approaches May Encourage or Inhibit Innovation

It is important that you understand the impact that leadership style has on innovation in organisations – including how specific approaches to leadership may encourage or inhibit innovation. Depending on an organisation and the context in which it operates, leadership styles may: (1) promote innovation and creativity, or (2) stifle innovation and creativity. Consider the following:

  • Leadership styles which encourage employees’ involvement – including transformational and participative (democratic) leadership – tend to promote innovation and creativity in organisations
  • Leadership styles which discourage employees’ involvement – including autocratic and laissez-faire leadership – tend to stifle innovation and creativity

Perhaps the best style of leadership to promote innovation in organisations is ‘innovative leadership’. This is a combination of leadership styles encouraging employees’ involvement – including transformational and participative (democratic) leadership. Read the following:

Innovative leadership has two components:

1. An innovative approach to leadership. This means to bring new thinking and different actions to how you lead, manage, and go about your work. How can you think differently about your role and the challenges you and your organisation face? What can you do to break open entrenched, intractable problems? How can you be agile and quick in the absence of information or predictability?

2. Leadership for innovation. Leaders must learn how to create an organisational climate where others apply innovative thinking to solve problems and develop new products and services. It is about growing a culture of innovation, not just hiring a few creative outliers. How can you help others to think differently and work in new ways to face challenges? What can be done to innovate when all resources are stressed and constrained? How can you stay alive and stay ahead of the competition?

Leaders need innovative leadership for themselves as they learn to operate in challenging, unpredictable circumstances. They also need to create a climate for innovation within organisations. Innovative systems, tools, and thinking are essential for organisational health and future viability. CEOs and leaders throughout organisations know they need to change the way they work. As they seek to drive results at a tactical level, leaders are looking for new rules of the road to give them a competitive edge and fuel new industries, markets, products, and services. Underlying the pressure to adapt – as individuals and organisations – is the need to innovate.

Hoth, 2014.

Assess and determine the requirements to promote sustainable innovative activity for the operational context and people involved

In your role, it is important that you assess and determine the requirements to promote sustainable innovative activity. Sustainable innovative activity is innovative activity that can be maintained in the medium- to long-term. When leading innovative thinking and practice, sustainability is an essential consideration – indeed, if innovation is not sustainable, it will be difficult to implement and maintain, employees will fail to embrace it, and its benefits for your organisation (if any) will be minimal and brief.

Depending on an organisation and the context in which it operates, there may be a variety of requirements for sustainable innovative activity – for example:

  • The financial and other resources necessary to implement innovative activities
  • Stable business systems, workflow and related processes
  • Business models which evolve to keep pace with the innovation
  • A stable government and / or economic climate
  • As stable workforce, which is continually up-skilling to sustain innovation
  • Technology which is advancing at a rate necessary to sustain innovation
  • The opening of new markets necessary to continue the innovation
  • A long-term strategic plan consistent with the direction of the innovation
  • A broader focus on research and development necessary for innovation

Assessing and determining the requirements to promote sustainable innovative activity involves undertaking research in your organisation and industry context. Your aim is to determine how innovation can be sustained in the medium- to long-term in this context. In undertaking this research, you should consider in particular:

  • The operational context – that is, the overall context in which your organisation conducts its activities (this concept was explored in an earlier section of the unit)
  • The people involved – that is, the employees within and external to your organisation who will be involved in implementing the innovation over time, and their associated roles and responsibilities

Strategies for research and analysis have been described throughout previous sections of the unit; you should revise these sections now.

Devise and implement most appropriate means to promote knowledge transfer

In your role, it is important that you devise and implement appropriate means to promote knowledge transfer. Knowledge transfer is, essentially, the set of strategies used to transfer knowledge (information) from one part of an organisation to another, or from one organisation to another, etc. Read the following:

Knowledge transfer is the methodical replication of the expertise, wisdom and tacit knowledge of critical professionals into the heads and hands of their coworkers. It is more than just on-the-job training. It is the planned movement of the right skills and information at the right time to keep a workforce prepared, productive, innovative and competitive.

Knowledge transfer includes the measurable transfer on-the-job of both explicit skills as well as implicit or tacit knowledge. The key issue knowledge transfer professionals work to solve is: What can we do to make the critical, high priority transfer of knowledge happen faster, with less stress, and with greater predictability and consistency?

Adapted from Trautman, 2011.

There are a variety of strategies you can use to promote knowledge transfer – consider the following examples:

  • Peer-to-peer mentoring or coaching
  • Opportunities for work shadowing or observation
  • Asking employees to produce standard operating procedures for key tasks
  • Technology-based activities (e.g. video-captured presentations)
  • Online chats, forums, intranet blog postings, etc.

When selecting strategies to promote knowledge transfer in your organisation, you should consider: (1) the type of knowledge which requires transfer, and the format in which this exits, (2) existing knowledge transfer processes, and whether these are fit-for-purpose, (3) employees’ preferences, and (4) potential risks and barriers associated with different strategies. This information will enable you to make informed decisions about the most appropriate knowledge transfer strategies for your organisation.

As demonstrated above, there are a are a variety of strategies you can use to promote knowledge transfer in your organisation. It is important that you devise and promote strategies which are most appropriate to your organisation and its context, and which are consistent with your organisation’s relevant policies / procedures. You should devise and promote knowledge transfer strategies in collaboration with those who will use those strategies in their work; this increases the likelihood the strategies you select will be relevant to, and embraced by, these people – and, therefore, meet their purpose.

Identify, evaluate and manage risks associated with innovation within an organisation

In your role, it is important that you identify, evaluate and manage the risks associated with innovation in your organisation. It is important to remember that although the benefits to an organisation of innovation can be significant, in many cases innovation is associated with at least some degree of risk. Read the following:

Innovation can be a company’s most powerful tool and a key driver of value. Yet many executives, fearful of the risks inherent in pursuing edgy new ideas that may not succeed, hesitate to unleash its full potential. They prefer, indeed, to renovate rather than to innovate.

Some, of course, would argue that responsible risk management necessitates a cautious approach to innovation. Only startups, they say, can afford to court the risk of failure. Organisations are complex entities, held together by a web of controls; loosening those controls to give innovation teams free rein could incur unacceptable risks and costs, not only for the company but for its various stakeholders as well. However, perhaps a better approach to innovate in a way which controls the risks associated with innovation.

Accenture, ND.

Discuss Typical Challenges and Barriers to Innovation within an Organisation and Ways of Overcoming these Challenges and Barriers, and Outline Strategies for Identifying, Assessing and Managing Risks Associated with Innovation

Risks represent key challenges and barriers to innovation within an organisation. Examples of these risks – and, subsequently, the challenges and barriers to innovation they represent – include:

  • Damage to property / equipment
  • Environmental issues
  • Market changes or resource deficiencies
  • Occupational health and safety issues (including disease)
  • Product or systems / processes failures
  • Professional incompetence

It is important that you are able to identify risks, challenges and barriers to innovation in your organisation. One of the most useful strategies is to do a Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) analysis. This involves considering the strengths and weaknesses of different innovations, and the opportunities and threats associated with each option.

Read the following about SWOT analysis:

A SWOT analysis is a common technique for analysing and exploring an organisation’s current situation. The simplicity and ease of using this model makes it useful for an organisation when dealing with any change in its environment. Things that you should consider include:

Strengths: A strength is any factor that makes your organisation more effective. This can include skills and capabilities that you have through your staff, technology or processes

Weaknesses: A weakness is a limitation or fault that exists within your organisation. It prevents you from achieving your purpose and goals

Opportunities: An opportunity is any favourable situation, trend or change that can help you to convert a weakness into a strength, and better protect your resources

Threats: A threat is any unfavourable situation, trend or change that impedes your ability to meet your strategic objectives, and potentially damages or threatens your capabilities

Note: weaknesses and threats represent risks to your organisation.

Adapted from ProBono Australia, ND.

It is also important that you think about risks to innovation routinely, as you go about your day-to-day work. For example: when implementing a particular technique, or using a particular tool, to promote innovation and creativity among your colleagues, ask yourself: “What negative impacts might this have? What challenges and barriers to innovation / creativity might result?”. Eventually, this thinking will become routine.

Once you identify the risks, challenges and barriers to innovation, as described, it is important that you evaluate these. This involves analysing these risks, to understand how they might negatively impact innovation in your organisation. Evaluation is important to informing strategies to effectively manage the risks you identify.

There are a number of ways you can evaluate risks. One of the most useful is through the use of a risk assessment matrix. Read the following:

A risk assessment matrix is a project management tool that allows a single page, quick view of the probable risks evaluated in terms of the likelihood or probability of the risk and the severity of the consequences. A risk assessment matrix is easier to make, since most of the information needed can be easily extracted from the risk assessment forms. It is made in the form of a simple table where the risks are grouped based on their likelihood and the extent of consequences.

Bright Hub, ND.

A standard risk matrix is presented below:

BSBINN801 Lead Innovative Thinking and Practice Sample Assignment image 1

Using the risk matrix presented above, risks may be assessed as low, medium or high according to their: (1) likelihood of occurring (unlikely à frequent), and (2) potential severity of their consequences (minor à catastrophic).

BSBINN801 Lead Innovative Thinking and Practice Sample Assignment image 2

Once you have evaluated risks associated with innovation, as described, it is important that you manage these risks. This involves identifying ways of overcoming the challenges and barriers to innovation the risks represent. This is done using the hierarchy of risk control; this describes the series of strategies which can be used to manage a risk. It is important to recognise that the strategies in the hierarchy become easier to implement, but less effective, the further you travel down.

Examples of the hierarchy of risk control are provided in the following table:

INTERVENTION

EXPLANATION

1.

Elimination

The hazard is taken away, or the job changed to avoid the hazard

2.

Substitution

The hazard is substituted with something less risky where possible and appropriate

3.

Isolation

The hazard is isolated, or the person completing the work task removed from the risk

4.

Engineering

The design of the job or of the equipment required to complete the job is changed

5.

Administration

Activities such as training are applied to make the job less risky

6.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

PPE (e.g. gloves, hardhat, boots, etc.) is worn to protect the worker from the hazard and thereby reduce the risk

Topic 3 – Generate and support a culture of innovation

Introduce and promote innovative practices, processes, products or services appropriate to audience and organisational requirements

In your role, it is important that you introduce and promote innovative practices, processes, products and services in your organisation. A strategy to introduce and promote creative thinking techniques was described in an earlier section of this unit; you should revise this section now, if required. This strategy can also be applied to introduce and promote innovative practices, processes, products and services.

When introducing and promoting innovative practices, processes, products and services in your organisation, it is important that you do so in a manner which is:

  • Appropriate to the audience you are working with – for example:
    • It considers what they already know, and what they need to know
    • It considers their level of understanding
    • It is consistent with their needs and interests
    • It is delivered in an appropriate tone (i.e. formal or informal)
    • It fits with their availability and work tasks
  • Consistent with organisational requirements – for example:
  • Requirements related to budgets and timeframes
  • Requirements related to the way(s) in which knowledge is transferred
  • Formal internal requirements – for example: policies and procedures
  • Formal external requirements – for example: legislation, regulations

You can find out about audience and organisational requirements for introducing and promoting innovative practices, processes, products and services by:

  • Reading key documents, such as your organisation’s policies and procedures
  • Speaking with your colleagues and supervisors about expectations / preferences
  • Reviewing the way your own organisation, or similar organisations, have successfully introduced and promoted innovation in the past

Establish ways to capture, communicate and share innovative ideas and practices

It is important that you establish ways to capture – that is, record or document – innovative ideas and practices. Capturing innovative ideas and practices is important for a number of reasons – perhaps most significantly, it provides evidence that the organisation is engaging in these ideas and practices, and it can help employees remain ‘on track’ when implementing these ideas and practices. It also forms a basis from which the implementation of these ideas and practices can be evaluated for its effectiveness.

There are a variety of ways you may capture, record or document innovative ideas and practices – consider the following examples:

  • Creating documentation about innovative ideas and practices, including:
    • Formal documentation (e.g. policies / procedures, meeting minutes, a change or implementation strategy, etc.)
    • Informal documentation (e.g. brainstorming activities, concept maps, etc.)
    • Documentation in hard-copy format (e.g. on paper) and soft-copy format (e.g. online, using internet-based or word processing software)
  • Recording the application of innovative ideas / practices as this occurs, using video- and / or audio-recording and photography (with permission)

In addition to establishing ways to capture innovative ideas and practices, as described, it is important that you also establish ways to communicate and share innovative ideas and practices. This essential if innovative ideas and practices are to be widely understood, used and supported in your organisation. Strategies to communicate and share innovative ideas and practices involve methods of knowledge transfer:

  • Peer-to-peer mentoring or coaching
  • Opportunities for work shadowing or observation
  • Asking employees to produce standard operating procedures for key tasks
  • Technology-based activities (e.g. video-captured presentations)
  • Online chats, forums, intranet blog postings, etc.

As with everything in your role, it is important that you capture, communicate and share innovative ideas and practices in a manner consistent with your organisation relevant policies and procedures, and with other organisational requirements.

Initiate and foster communication, consultation and team development approaches that support innovation

In your role, it is important that you initiate and foster communication, consultation and team development approaches that support innovation. This section will look at each of these approaches in greater detail:

Communication is, essentially, the transfer of information between and among people – however, this can be a complex process! The relationships between these different parts of the communication cycle are illustrated following:

SENDER

(Encodes)

Channel

Information / message

RECEIVER

(Decodes)

Feedback

Simply, communication begins with a sender, a person who has information – or, a message – they wish to communicate. They encode this information / message – that is, they decide how they will communicate it – and they also choose the channel by which they communicate it (e.g. spoken word, written word, body language, etc.). The receiver then decodes or interprets the information, in a way which may be consistent or inconsistent with the information / message the sender intended to communicate.

Read the following about the relationship between communication and innovation:

Effective communication is critical to any organisation and can help it in many ways. In fact, communication plays a role in virtually every facet of a business' operations. Employees are a key audience because they often serve as the conduit to other audiences. If employees are informed and engaged, communications with other constituencies are likely to be strong as well.

Open channels of communication can lead to new ideas and innovation in a number of areas. Employees that understand what's important to their companies can focus on making improvements and spotting opportunities for innovation that can help further success. When employees know their ideas will be sought after, that company leaders will have open minds and be responsive to their feedback, they're more likely to contribute their ideas. Customers also can be a source of great ideas to help improve products and services.

Effective communications help to establish clear expectations for employees in relation to innovation. For employees, clear expectations will convey how their performance will impact the company and give them an indication of what they need to do to achieve positive feedback.

Effective communication also builds strong relationships. Trust and loyalty are key factors in any effective innovation and both are boosted by communication that is focused on meeting individual needs, conveying important information and providing feedback - positive and constructive. Strong relationships with external audiences also builds innovation.

Effective organisational communication will lead to strong teamwork and the ability for employees at all levels of the organisation to work together to achieve innovation. In addition, effective organisational communication will provide employees the knowledge, structure and positive work environment they need to feel comfortable dealing with the complexities surrounding innovation.

Adapted from Richards, 2017.

It is important that you initiate and foster communication that supports innovation. Consider the following:

  • Tell people about innovation, and why it is necessary in your organisation; focus on the benefits innovation is expected to bring to your organisation
  • When speaking about innovation, be clear about what innovation is
  • When speaking about innovation, relate this to people’s goals – both at the individual level and the organisational level – and people’s work tasks
  • When implementing innovation, speak one-on-one with people who make progress happen – this includes managers / supervisors, and also colleagues
  • Communicate regularly with relevant people; this helps you to: (1) maintain interest in / motivation for the innovation, and (2) identify problems with the innovation, enabling these to be rapidly corrected
  • Maintain open and inclusive channels of communication – invite people to approach you with questions, comments, concerns, etc., about the innovation

Also consider the following general principles of effective communication:

  • Use clear, legible writing with simple expressions; avoid complex language (such as metaphors, which are a common cause of misunderstanding)
  • Use non-verbal communication, including body language (e.g. hand gestures), to enhance the message you are attempting to communicate
  • Consider differences in the proximities people prefer when communicating, the context and methods they prefer, and the speed at which they communicate (including how quickly or directly they get to the ‘point’ of their message)
  • Speak clearly and concisely, including using appropriate language and tone
  • Compliment your verbal communication with open body language, a smile, etc.
  • Check understanding, and clarifying misunderstanding where required; rather than simply asking a person if they understand (as they may be embarrassed to admit they do not), check their understanding by listening to how they engage with and express the topic you are discussing
  • Avoid communicating evaluations or judgements; use descriptive language (e.g. instead of saying something was done wrong, describe the situation)
  • Encourage people to put forward their ideas and suggestions – and encourage others to listen to these, and accept alternative approaches / opinions
  • Ensure communication is consistently positive, respectful and inclusive
  • Encourage productive dialogue (i.e. communication which is outcomes-focused)

Ultimately, you should adapt your communication to suit the individualperson you are communicating with:

Pace according to the person’s vocal style. Listen to the person’s speed, tone, volume and length of message. Then without mimicking them, use a similar speed of voice, tone, volume and length of message. Pacing will build rapport and comfort with your customer

Adjust your level of simplicity and complexity. Listen to the person and ask yourself how simple or complex they seem to be talking and thinking. If they want it simple, keep it as simple and clear as possible. If the person seems to want more complexity, go into greater depth and substance as is appropriate. Adjusting is a powerful way to build clarity, rapport and understanding

Mirror the person basic gestures, expressions and body lean. Try to look more similar than different from your customer. Don’t mimic them by following their every cue. Instead, try to gradually position yourself similarly in terms of body lean (forward, upright, and backward) and look (relaxed or formal), use of basic hand gesturing and facial signals

Brennan, ND.

It is important to remember that communication is a two-way process. Just as important as sending information, is receiving it. Active listening is an important strategy you should use to receive information. Active listening means that you listen to understand what is being said by another person (do not just listen to respond). Active listening also involves contributing to a conversation in a manner which demonstrates understanding – or, an interest in developing understanding – of the other person’s perspective on the topic being discussed, or their emotional responses and needs, etc. Read the following:

Active listening is a skill that can be acquired and developed with practice. However, active listening can be difficult to master and will, therefore, take time and patience to develop. ‘Active listening’ means, as its name suggests, actively listening. That is fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker.

Active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening – otherwise the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.

Interest can be conveyed to the speaker by using both verbal and non-verbal messages such as maintaining eye contact, nodding your head and smiling, agreeing by saying ‘Yes’ or simply ‘Mmm hmm’ to encourage them to continue. By providing this 'feedback' the person speaking will usually feel more at ease and therefore communicate more easily, openly and honestly.

Signs of active listening include:

Smiling: Small smiles can be used to show that the listener is paying attention to what is being said or as a way of agreeing or being happy about the messages being received. Smiles can be powerful in affirming that messages are listened to and understood

Eye contact: It is normal and usually encouraging for the listener to look at the speaker. Eye contact can however be intimidating, especially for more shy speakers – gauge how much eye contact is appropriate for any given situation

Posture: Posture can tell a lot about the sender and receiver in interpersonal interactions. The attentive listener tends to lean slightly forward or sideways whilst sitting. Other signs of active listening may include a slight slant of the head or resting the head on one hand

Mirroring: Automatic reflection/mirroring of any facial expressions used by the speaker can be a sign of attentive listening. These reflective expressions can help to show sympathy and empathy in more emotional situations. Attempting to consciously mimic facial expressions (i.e. not automatic reflection of expressions) can be a sign of inattention

The active listener will not be distracted and therefore will refrain from fidgeting, looking at a clock or watch, doodling, playing with their hair or picking their fingernails.

Skills You Need, ND.

Once you have listened actively to a person, you should respond to what they have said. You can respond to client in a number of different ways:

  • By using verbal encouragers (for example – at the end of a sentence you may say “Go on”, “What happened next?”, “Mmm?”, “I see …”, “I understand …”, “Carry on …” or “Tell me more …”, etc., to prompt the person to continue)
  • By questioning for understanding. This technique demonstrates that you value what the client has said and that you are interested in finding out more
  • By paraphrasing what the client has said. This indicates to the client that you have understood what was said, such as “So what you’re saying is …” “You feel…”
  • By reflecting content and feeling. This involves the paraphrasing of a verbally- or non-verbally-communicated message. Reflecting content and feeling is done in order to demonstrate an understanding of the message, or the emotions experienced or expressed by the person
  • Reflecting, clarifying and summarising what the person has said

Consultation is a key communication skill you will use in your practice leading innovative thinking and practice. Consulting with key stakeholders – including relevant individuals and groups, etc. – is necessary to identify, understand and develop effective responses to issues of concern. There are a variety of benefits of consultation – primarily, consultation allows you to develop a more detailed knowledge of the needs of and issues which affect people, and therefore you can implement more relevant and effective solutions for those people. Furthermore, people who are involved in genuine consultative processes are more likely to be engaged in and committed to the innovative and creative practices from these consultative processes.

Consultation should be planned to include all relevant members of the organisation (i.e. all stakeholders). It should consider logistical issues, such as appropriate communication methods, consulting tools and information documentation, and suitable timeframes, locations, facilitators and involvement of other experts. It is also important that the consultation technique is appropriate for the audience – for example, it would be inappropriate to present a low literacy group with a lengthy written survey!

Read the following about consulting with people:

Consultation can provide qualitative insights into people’s needs that cannot be elicited from data alone. Consultation is essential in order to obtain information about the perceived needs of individuals and groups, insight into their experiences, and their perspectives on how innovation should be improved and where it is already working well. Consultations can help identify barriers to the innovation, ascertain how satisfied people are with the innovation (and existing practices), and identify where the innovation could be improved to better meet their needs. Consultation needs to gather both general views and the views of the specific people involved in, or affected by, the innovation.

Adapted from the Australian Government Department of Health, 2015

Consultation may be undertaken in a number of different ways; review the list of potential consultation mechanisms below:

  • Meetings, forums and focus groups, etc. – usually at the group level
  • Direct contact (e.g. telephone, emails, etc.) – usually at the individual level
  • ‘Drop-boxes’ or websites where people can submit anonymous comments
  • Mixed-methods surveys, opinion polls or formal feedback forms, etc.

Remember: you must consult with people using the techniques which best suit their preferences, and in a manner consistent with your organisation’s policies and procedures. It is also important to bear in mind that consultation is a two-way process – it involves you listening to stakeholders, acting on the information they provide (as appropriate) and then providing feedback to the stakeholders to explain how the information they have provided has contributed to the development of the innovation.

In order to lead innovative thinking and practice in your organisation, it is essential that you are familiar with team development approaches that support innovation. One of the most popular theories of team development is the ‘Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing’ theory. This is explained further in the following reading:

Forming: In this stage, most team members are positive and polite. Some are anxious, as they haven't fully understood what work the team will do. Others are simply excited about the task ahead. This stage can last for some time, as people start to work together, and as they make an effort to get to know their new colleagues.

Storming: Next, the team moves into the storming phase, where people start to push against the boundaries established in the forming stage. This is the stage where many teams fail. Storming often starts where there is a conflict between team members' natural working styles. People may work in different ways for all sorts of reasons but, if differing working styles cause unforeseen problems, they may become frustrated.

Norming: Gradually, the team moves into the norming stage. This is when people start to resolve their differences, [and] appreciate colleagues' strengths. There is often a prolonged overlap between storming and norming, because, as new tasks come up, the team may lapse back into behaviour from the storming stage.

Performing: The team reaches the performing stage, when hard work leads, without friction, to the achievement of the team's goal.

Adapted from MindTools, ND.

Note that a possible (though hopefully avoidable) fifth step in the ‘Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing’ theory is ‘mourning / reforming’, where groups disband and may reform, though usually with a different structure.

Read the following about managing the group work process:

Effective group work does not happen by accident. It involves deliberate effort, and because there are many people involved it must not be left up to memory; good note taking is essential. Following these steps will help you and your group to work effectively together:

1. Have clear objectives. At each stage you should try to agree on goals. These include a timetable for progress on the project as well as more immediate goals. Each meeting or discussion should also begin with a goal in mind

2. Set ground rules. Discussions can become disorderly and can discourage shyer group members from participating if you don't have procedures in place for encouraging discussion, coming to resolution without becoming repetitive, and resolving differences of opinion. Set rules at the outset and modify them as necessary along the way

3. Communicate efficiently. Make sure you communicate regularly with group members. Try to be clear and positive in what you say without going on or being repetitive

4. Build consensus. People work together most effectively when they are working toward a goal that they have agreed to. Ensure that everyone has a say, even if you have to take time to get more withdrawn members to say something. Make sure you listen to everyone's ideas and then try to come to an agreement that everyone shares and has contributed to

5. Define roles. Split the work to be done into different tasks that make use of individual strengths. Having roles both in the execution of your tasks and in meetings / discussions can help to make a happy, effective team

6. Clarify. When a decision is made, this must be clarified in such a way that everyone is absolutely clear on what has been agreed, including deadlines

7. Keep good records. Communicating on the online discussion for your group provides a good record of discussion. Try to summarise face-to-face discussions and especially decisions, and post them to the online discussion so that you can refer back to them. This includes lists of who has agreed to do what

8. Stick to the plan. If you agreed to do something as part of the plan, then do it. Your group are relying on you to do what you said you would do not what you felt like doing. If you think the plan should be revised, then discuss this

9. Monitor progress and stick to deadlines. As a group, discuss progress in relation to your timetable and deadlines. Make sure that you personally meet deadlines to avoid letting your group down

10. A useful tool to help with the steps above is a contract. Within the first week of each group task you and your group will need to negotiate and agree to a contract. In this agreement, you will outline what you are going to do, who is going to do what, and by when

University of New South Wales, 2015.

As noted in the above reading, assigning roles is important for effective teamwork. A person may take one or more of a variety of different roles in a team – for example:

  • Manager / leader – the role of the manager / leader is to: take on the responsibilities of: organising the group, keeping the group on task, and ensuring all members of the group have the opportunity to contribute
  • Sceptic / thinker – the role of the sceptic / thinker is to: ensure the group avoids premature agreement (if decisions are to be made), asking questions that improve the understanding of the group on topics being learned / discussed, and pushing the group to explore all possibilities
  • Checker / recorder – the role of the checker/ recorder is to: check for consensus among the group members, and record the group’s solutions
  • Conciliator – the role of the conciliator is to: resolve conflicts between group members, minimise interpersonal stress, and ensure that all group members feel ‘safe’ and comfortable to participate
  • Explainer – the role of the explainer is to: re-emphasise the main points of the information learned or the decisions made, check participants’ understanding, and ensure that each participant understands their roles and responsibilities

There are a number of ways you can encourage positive group dynamics, to support innovation in your workgroup – consider the following:

  • Ensure your group recognise they are all working towards similar goals
  • Promote open communication and trust among your group members
  • Use ‘ice-breaker’ activities, and activities for your group to have fun together
  • Develop group ‘norms’, or rules they agree will govern them (e.g. one example of a common group rule is that no person is allowed to speak over another)
  • Focus on the group members’ different strengths and abilities

If the dynamics of a group are simply not working, it is important that you adapt activities and programs in response to this. Often, this involves splitting problematic groups, and encouraging employees to form different, more productive groups. In some cases, it may also involve combining groups so that an innovation can be implemented more effectively. Regardless of how you go about developing groups when leading innovation, it is important that your focus is on groups which are productive in terms of creating, generating and motivating innovation in the organisation

Identify, assess and provide adequate resources for innovation to occur

In your role, it is important that you identify, assess and provide adequate resources for innovation to occur. These resources include:

Human resources

Human resources are the people needed to implement the innovation.

Identifying personnel begins with a process of brainstorming all the smaller tasks involved in the implementation of the innovation, and then thinking about the type and number of people required to complete these tasks. Depending on the nature of the innovation you are implementing, you may require people with a variety of different types of expertise. These may be sourced from: (1) within your organisation, (2) from partner organisations, and / or (3) externally (i.e. through recruitment processes).

The next step is to estimate the time required for each of these personnel on the innovation, as this is crucial in determining how much they will cost to retain. How you remunerate people depends whether a person is an employee or a contractor:

In an employee arrangement, workers provide labour and work under the control and direction of the employer. The employer determines who does the work as well as when, how and where it is done. Employees are paid according to the relevant award, agreement or contract of employment and, generally speaking, are eligible for leave entitlements (including annual and sick leave). The employer is also responsible for withholding tax and providing a prescribed minimum level of superannuation contribution for each of their employees.

A subcontracting arrangement is a business-to-business relationship, with the subcontractor providing a service that usually includes labour, tools, materials and expertise. No employment contract exists. Subcontractors undertake to produce a given product or service and are not under the direction and control of an employer in the execution of their work. Typically, a subcontractor has control over the hours worked, how the work is performed and when they will or will not work.

Government of Western Australia Department of Finance, ND.

Sometimes, you will recruit people to work on a project involving the implementation of an innovation in a voluntary capacity. Your organisation and your State / Territory government will have policies and procedures in relation to human resources management; it is important that you work within these key documents.

Once you have identified the number and type of staff required, you must then source these staff. This may involve either: (a) organising people within your organisation (and collaborating organisations) to assist with the program, (b) recruiting paid employees (if your project’s budget allows for this, and in a manner consistent with your organisation’s policies and procedures), and / or (c) recruiting volunteers. It is important that you refer to your organisation’s policies and procedures for recruitment.

Physical resources

Physical resources are the equipment / materials to implement the innovation

Depending on the nature of the project you are implementing, there may be a variety of different resources you require – from materials directly related to the innovation (e.g. new computer systems, office administration materials [e.g. stationery, telephone / internet access], supplies related to work tasks, etc.) to training and education materials to support people to implement the innovation. Also consider the potential that you may require physical space to deliver the innovation, storage space, vehicles and legal, financial and other expert professional advice, etc.

The best way to identify the physical resources you need is, once again, to brainstorm a list. Organise this list according to each activity you are planning to implement; imagine implementing each activity, and think about the resources you will need. Then, check this list – experienced colleagues will be able to provide you with support, particularly in identifying resources you might not have even considered necessary!

Financial resources

Financial resources is the money you require to implement the innovation.

Financial resources may be obtained in one of a number of different ways. Your organisation may already have funding for the innovation, in which case you will need to engage in processes to release this funding. Funding may also be sought from:

  • Grants, which may be sourced from not-for-profit and government organisations (the most common funding options for community organisations in Australia)
  • Fundraising, which involves raising funds for your project in the community (for example, online crowd funding is a popular way of funding community projects)
  • Corporate partnerships, which involve a partnership in return for funding

You can find information on sources of funding for business innovations online. The Australian government, and most States / Territories, have ‘grant finder’ websites which list current funding opportunities. It is also important that you remain up-to-date with other opportunities which may not be advertised on these websites, using the networking strategies described earlier in this unit. There are many thousands of funding opportunities, both in Australia and internationally, and it takes careful research to determine the funding sources most suitable for your particular project.

Once you have identified and assessed the resources required to deliver your innovation, as described, it is important that you provide these resources.

Financial resources may be obtained in one of a number of different ways. Your organisation may already have funding for the program, in which case you will need to engage in processes to release this funding. As noted above, it is also common to apply for funding for business innovations from external organisations.

Remember: here are a variety of sources of funding for innovation projects in Australia – including both government and non-government (i.e. philanthropic businesses, ‘not for profit’ groups, etc.). You must be able to assess sources of project funding – that is, evaluate them to determine if they are the correct ‘fit’ for your project. Then, you can write a funding application. Each funding source will have a different process for applications, and it is essential that you are familiar with, and that you work within, these requirements. Guidelines can usually be found on the funding body’s website, and you can also obtain advice by speaking with funding body representatives.

Non-human resources

Where required, you should order the resources required to implement your innovation; this involves contacting a company to arrange for them to provide these resources. You should be familiar with your organisation’s policies / procedures for procurement – that is, the purchasing of resources. Be aware that it may be necessary for your supervisor or another senior person in the organisation to approve purchases.

Often, an organisation’s budget for an innovation project is capped and the finances required to purchase resources are unavailable. For this reason, it is important to identify the resources already available in your organisation and / or partner organisations – and you should seek to use these to the greatest possible extent. This may involve strategies to access these resources – including loaning, renting or purchasing them at reduced cost. Remember: working collaboratively with other organisations, and particularly those which already take an innovative approach to their work, is crucial to effective innovation.

You should also consider developing the resources required by your project. This might include directly designing or constructing the resources you require – for example, designing posters, hand-outs or PowerPoints, etc. It may also involve developing the necessary skills and knowledge among the staff who will deliver the innovation.

Develop and apply strategies to foster a workplace culture capable of encouraging innovation

In your role, it is important that you develop and apply strategies to foster a workplace culture which is capable of encouraging innovation. The term workplace culture refers to the character of an organisation. Read the following:

Culture is the character and personality of your organisation. It's what makes your organisation unique and is the sum of its values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors, and attitudes. A multitude of different factors in the workplace play a role in developing a workplace culture, including:

Leadership: the way your leaders communicate and interact with employees, what they communicate and emphasise, their vision for the future, what they celebrate and recognise, what they expect, the stories they tell, how they make decisions, the extent to which they are trusted, and the beliefs and perceptions they reinforce

Management: how your organisation is managed - its systems, procedures, structure, hierarchy, controls, and goals/objectives; degree to which managers empower employees to make decisions support and interact with them, and act consistently

Workplace practices: practices related to recruiting, selection, on-boarding, compensation, benefits, rewards and recognition, training and development, advancement/promotion, performance management, wellness, work/life balance (paid time off, leave, etc.), as well as workplace traditions

Policies and philosophies: employment policies including, but not limited to, attendance, dress code, code of conduct, and scheduling; organisational philosophies such as hiring, compensation, pay for performance, and internal transfer and promotion

People: the people you hire - their personalities, beliefs, values, diverse skills and experiences, and everyday behaviors; the types of interactions that occur between employees (collaborative vs. confrontational, supportive vs. non-supportive, social vs. task-oriented, etc.)

Mission, vision, and values: clarity of mission, vision and values and whether they honestly reflect the beliefs and philosophies of your organisation; how inspiring they are to your employees; extent to which the mission, vision, and values are stable, widely communicated, and continuously emphasised

Work environment: objects, artefacts, and other physical signs in your workplace; what people place on their desks, what the organisation hangs on its walls, how it allocates space and offices, what those offices looks like, and how common areas are used

Communications: the manner in which communication occurs in your workplace; degree, type, and frequency of interaction and communication between leaders and employees and managers and employees; extent of transparency in sharing information and making decisions

ERC, 2013.

As you saw in an earlier section of this unit, there are a variety of features of a workplace culture which encourages innovation. Depending on your organisation and the context in which it operates, there are a number of different strategies you may consider developing and applying to foster a workplace culture which encourages innovation. Consider the following examples:

  • Be flexible in how people undertake their work and achieve work outcomes
  • Provide employees with the skills and confidence to engage in innovation
  • Provide training to enable and empower employees to be innovative
  • Provide support for innovation (e.g. through the provision of time / resources)
  • Collaborate with other people / organisations who use innovative approaches
  • Establish policies and procedures which clearly support innovation; ensure processes for undertaking and implementing innovation are clearly understood
  • Reward and recognise for innovative practices and approaches
  • Encourage employees to provide feedback / share ideas without fear of retribution, and establish mechanisms they may use to do so
  • Provide dedicated time and / or space for people to be innovative and creative
  • Consider hiring people with different perspectives, diverse backgrounds and capabilities which are outside the norm for people in your field / industry
  • Lead by example, by being innovative and creative in your own work
  • Implement innovations rapidly and continuously, so that people in the organisation remain motivated in relation to, and engaged with, them
  • Create opportunities for people to be creative / innovative in their day-to-day work (e.g. have regular job swaps, develop cross-functional teams, etc.)
  • Routinely use the tools and techniques which foster innovative and creative thinking, described in previous sections of this unit

As with everything in your work role, when developing and applying strategies to foster a workplace culture which encourages innovation, it is important that you work within your organisation’s relevant policies and procedures.

Establish mechanisms at system and process level that can support innovation

As you saw in the previous section of this unit, there are a variety of features of a workplace culture which encourage innovation. An innovative workplace culture is underpinned by systems and process which support innovation. Remember: these mechanisms may exist:

  • At the system-level – that is, at the level of the organisation or the workgroup
  • At the process level – that is, at the point at which people and teams undertake activities to fulfil work tasks and achieve work outcomes, etc.

It is important that you are able to establish mechanisms at the system- and process-levels to encourage and support innovation. Depending on your organisation and the context in which it operates, there may be a variety of such mechanisms. These mechanisms may be physical and / or electronic, and relate to:

  • Customer management
  • Human resources
  • Information technology
  • Learning
  • The market
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Operations
  • Planning (strategic and corporate)
  • Quality
  • Research and development
  • Risk and risk management
  • Resource management
  • Supply chain management
  • Structural and performance hierarchies (strata)

Once again, as with everything in your work role, when establishing mechanisms that can support innovation, it is important that you work within your organisation’s relevant policies and procedures.

Topic 4 – Sustain innovative thinking and practice

Develop strategies to make innovation an integral part of organisational activity, and Develop and monitor processes to ensure ongoing awareness of individual and collective contributions to innovative thinking and practice

A previous section introduced the importance of sustainable innovation; you should revise this section now, if required. In sustaining innovative practice, it is important to:

  • Make innovation an integral part of your organisation’s activity – for example:
    • Incorporating considerations for innovation in your organisation’s various policies and procedures
    • Using techniques and tools to generate new ideas and thinking as a routine part of your day-to-day work
    • Providing ongoing training to support employees to implement creative / innovative thinking and practice
    • Establish long-term collaborations with other organisations, who also take an innovative approach to their work activities
    • Create opportunities for people to be innovative in their day-to-day work (e.g. have regular job swaps, develop cross-functional teams, etc.)
    • Provide dedicated time and / or space for people to be innovative
  • Develop and monitor processes to ensure the ongoing awareness of individual and collective contributions to innovative thinking and practice – for example:
    • Recognising innovative practices and approaches at team meetings
    • Rewarding innovative practices and approaches – both formally (e.g. via certificates or bonuses, etc.), or informally (e.g. via mentions in the organisation’s newsletter, or posters on bulletin boards, etc.)

As with everything in your work role, when sustaining innovative practice, it is important that you work within your organisation’s relevant policies and procedures.

Analyse potential barriers and risks to innovation and devise strategies to respond

Remember: in your role, it is important that you analyse potential barriers and risks to innovation, and that you devise strategies to respond to these barriers and risks. This is a fundamental step in ensuring the innovation you are planning is implemented effectively. You studied strategies to identify, evaluate and manage risks, barriers and challenges associated with innovation within an organisation in an earlier section; you should revise this section now, if required.

Analyse and reflect on innovation performance as a basis for developing strategies for improvement

In your role, it is important that you analyse and reflect on the performance of the innovation you have implemented. The purpose of this is to evaluate the innovation – including what went well, and what did not (and why) – and to identify strategies you can use to improve the innovation. The process of evaluating the innovation may be:

  • A formal one, evaluating the innovation against formal evaluation criteria
  • An informal one, reflecting and seeking feedback on the innovation

This section of the unit will describe each of these processes in detail.

As noted, the analysis of an innovation may be undertaken as a formal evaluation process. This involves assessing the effectiveness of the innovation against a set of pre-determined evaluation criteria. The type of evaluation criteria you use depends on the nature of your organisation and its context, the type of innovations you implemented and the intended outcomes of these innovations, etc. Evaluation criteria might include:

  • Whether the innovation improved the organisation’s productivity / profitability
  • Whether the innovation generated creativity in the organisation
  • Whether the drivers and enablers of the innovation were effectively harnessed
  • Whether the risks and barriers to the innovation were properly managed
  • Whether strategies to capture, communicate and share the innovation were used
  • Whether the innovation appears to be sustainable (for example: whether techniques / tools to foster innovation continue to be used in the organisation)
  • Whether the resources for the innovation to be implemented were available, and whether other resources for implementation / maintenance were provided
  • Whether leadership processes were appropriate for innovation implementation

Evaluation criteria may be:

  • Quantitative – that is, based on numbers (e.g. In the fortnight after implementing the new telephone system [the innovation], sales increased by 15%)
  • Qualitative – that is, based on written or spoken text (e.g. Most of the organisation’s employees reported they were satisfied with the way the innovation was implemented; furthermore, most felt the necessary resources were available)

It is essential that you are familiar with a range of methods to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of an innovation. Read the following:

There are several types of evaluations that can be conducted. Some of them include the following:

Process/implementation evaluation determines if the strategy was delivered as intended

Outcome/effectiveness evaluation measures the strategy’s effects in the target population by assessing the progress in the outcomes that the program is to achieve

Impact evaluation assesses the strategy’s effectiveness in achieving its ultimate goals

Centres for Disease Control, ND.

Data to formally evaluate an innovation may be collected in a variety of ways – but fundamentally, this involves consulting with those involved in, and affected by, the innovation. You should revise the consultation strategies described in an earlier section of this unit now, if required.

In addition to analysing an innovation via a formal evaluation, as described, this may also be undertaken as an informal process. Typically, this involves:

  • Seeking informal feedback on the innovation
  • Reflecting on the innovation

Let’s look at both of these processes in greater detail:

Feedback is, essentially, information from others which tells you about how effective the implementation of an innovation has been, the impact of the innovation on organisational outcomes, and other key information. Read the following about feedback:

Feedback is the cheapest, most powerful, yet, most under used management tool that we have at our disposal. It is useful information that can inform our decisions and strategies. Working without feedback is similar to setting out an important journey minus a map or signposts. You may have a great sense of direction but this may not be sufficient to keep you on track.

Adapted from Lang, 2015.

In your role, you should seek feedback on the effectiveness of innovation implementation from a range of different colleagues – including your workplace supervisor, organisation manager and other co-workers and team members, as appropriate. You may also consider seeking feedback from other key stakeholders – such as representatives from partner organisations and / or your organisation’s clients (particularly if these people have been impacted by the innovation). Seeking feedback from a range of different people helps to give you a more comprehensive evaluation, and it better informs the strategies you implement to improve the innovation.

You can seek feedback in a number of different ways – consider the following examples:

  • Face-to-face meetings, individual or group, where direct questions are asked
  • Anonymous ‘drop-box’ in the workplace for comments
  • Mixed-methods surveys
  • Formal feedback forms
  • Direct contact (e.g. telephone) to ask about experiences
  • Forums or focus groups
  • Personalised emails seeking specific feedback
  • A website where comments can be posted
  • By listening to comments from others about the innovation

Feedback is, essentially, a series of suggestions for improvement. It is important that the feedback on the effectiveness of innovation implementation and the impact of the innovation on organisational outcomes you receive from other members of your workgroup are considered objectively. This means you should look at the feedback in an impartial, detached and unemotional way, consider its value, and determine whether it is worth acting upon. Consider the following statement:

The key is to be discerning. Don’t reject feedback just because you don’t like who it’s coming from, but don’t automatically accept it until you have considered their credibility and motives.

Kreltzheim, 2015.

Although all feedback – and particularly critical feedback – is valuable, it is important to remember that in most cases feedback is just somebody’s subjective opinion. It is therefore important that you evaluate others’ ideas and opinions, as reflected in their feedback. You should consider asking yourself questions such as:

  • Is this feedback relevant to the evaluation? Is it credible, and justified?
  • Is the person giving me this feedback qualified to do so?
  • Can I use this feedback to improve the innovation?
  • What (if anything) is motivating this feedback?
  • Will this feedback be useful in improving the innovation?

Rather than simply accepting all feedback as a reflection of the ‘truth’ or of ‘reality’, it is important to think critically about it. This will help you to decide which pieces of feedback to act upon – or implement – to improve the innovation’s implementation and outcomes, and which to discard as inaccurate, unrealistic or unhelpful.

It is also important that you reflect on the performance of the innovation you have implemented. To reflect means to ‘think back’ on an event. The purpose of reflection is to identify what went well, what could have been done better and, perhaps most importantly, where you can improve your response in similar situations in the future.

When reflecting on an event, you should ask yourself questions such as:

  • What went well about the way the innovation was implemented / its outcomes?
  • What did not go well – and what were the reasons for this?
  • How can I use this information to improve the innovation in the future?

You can reflect in a variety of ways:

  • This may be a formal process – for example, you may be required to write a reflective passage as a professional development activity, or to reflect on your personal performance in a performance review with your work supervisor, etc.
  • This may also be an informal process – for example, you may reflect on a situation you encountered at work as you travel home for the day, or in an informal discussion with your colleagues during a meal break, etc.

Remember: the fundamental purpose of analysing and reflecting on the performance of an innovation is to gather information to inform strategies to improve the innovation. In undertaking the formal and informal evaluation activities described in this section, it is likely you will identify a variety of ways the innovation can be improved. It is your responsibility to use this information to develop strategies to enable such improvements to occur. This is a continuous process; once improvements are implemented, the performance of the innovation should again be evaluated.

Summary

Now that you have completed this unit, you should have the skills and knowledge to generate, lead and sustain innovative organisational thinking and practice.

If you have any questions about this resource, please ask your trainer. They will be only too happy to assist you when required.

References

Beckett, R. & Hyland, P. (2009). Effective Communication in Innovation Processes. Retrieved from: https://eprints.qut.edu.au/27155/1/CINet_09_-_Beckett.pdf

Business Queensland. (2017). Trend Analysis for Business Improvement. Retrieved from: https://www.business.qld.gov.au/running-business/growing-business/trend-analysis

Business Queensland. (2017). Evaluating Your Innovation. Retrieved from: https://www.business.qld.gov.au/running-business/growing-business/becoming-innovative/developing-products/evaluating-innovation

Business Victoria. (2017). Improving Innovation. Retrieved from: http://www.business.vic.gov.au/marketing-sales-and-online/growth-innovation-and-measurement/improving-business-innovation-and-examples

Centre for Creative Leadership. (2014). Innovation Leadership: How to Use Innovation to Lead Effectively, Work Collaboratively and Drive Results. Retrieved from; http://www.ccl.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/InnovationLeadership.pdf

ERC. (2013). Workplace Culture: What it is, Why it Matters and How to Define it. Retrieved from: https://www.yourerc.com/blog/post/Workplace-Culture-What-it-Is-Why-it-Matters-How-to-Define-It.aspx

Intetics. (2013). Adapting to Change: Is Your Business Flexible? Retrieved from: http://intetics.com/blog/adapting-to-change-is-your-business-flexible/

Kesting, P., Ulhoi, J.P., Song, L.J. & Niu, H. (2014). The impact of leaderships styles on innovation management. Journal of Innovation Management, 3, 22-41.

MindTools. (ND). Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing: Understanding the Stages of Team Formation. Retrieved from: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_86.htm

Mooney, L. (2016). Benefits from Change in the Workplace. Retrieved from: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/benefits-change-workplace-13255.html

Pinnacle Workplace Consultants. (ND). Workplace Improvement Sessions. Retrieved from: http://www.pinnaclewc.com.au/Workplace_Improvement/ Workplace_Improvement_Sessions.aspx

Skillicorn, N. (2017). 15 Most Important Innovation Theories Your Company Should Be Using. Retrieved from: https://www.ideatovalue.com/inno/nickskillicorn/2017/07/15-most-important-innovation-theories-your-company-should-be-using/

Wipulanusat, W., Panuwatwanich, K. & Stewart, R.A. (2017). Exploring leadership styles for innovation: An exploratory factor analysis. Engineering Management in Production and Services, 9(1). Retrieved from: https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/emj.2017.9.issue-1/emj-2017-0001/emj-2017

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