how to encourage innovation

Posted on December 11, 2008

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Churches have been notoriously behind the curve when it comes to innovation. In fact, we in the church environment have become really adept at copying the best of secular culture and “churchifying” it.

The latest edition of the Harvard Business Review featured a great article on finding and encouraging innovators within your organization. The author writes, “Our findings are simple and somewhat disturbing, given the acknowledged necessity for innovation: Companies usually develop leaders who replicate rather than innovate. Thus rising stars realize that to be promoted, they need to mirror incumbent leaders.” Sound familiar?

This article, which is definitely worth the read, suggests four techniques for fostering innovation:
1. Let innovators work with live ammunition – give people real responsibility/resources and make them defend their ideas to senior mgmt
2. Provide multiple mentors – In the best organizations a mentor is assigned so that the protégé can test new ideas and assumptions with a seasoned expert before introducing them to others in the company.
3. Peer networks that meet regularly and have open channels of communication provide a sense of solidarity and a uniquely fertile environment in which to exchange ideas, impart information, and instill hope.
4. Replant them in the middle of the organizational chart – away from formal boxes and long-standing tradition.

How do you identify and encourage new ideas in your church or organization?

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