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Improvement & Innovation

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Innovation is defined as a new idea, way of doing something, or a new device (Merriam-Webster). In organizations, innovation can also mean the introduction and application of an approach used in other industries to a team or system. As systems and organizations get better at getting better, cycles of improvement increasingly include innovations.


When a team awakens to the real meaning and practice of a continuous improvement approach to make lasting change, team members begin to think about improvement possibilities differently. Getting away from initiative-centered thinking can be a challenge for organizations that may be accustomed to jumping from one episodic and silver bullet promise to the next. However, the deliberate shift to ongoing cycles of improvement opens the door to creativity and innovative thinking about system needs.

Most of the time, these different ways of thinking aren’t necessarily new to the world. They might just be new and better for the organization. As the dust clears from initiative-jumping and team members grow skilled at thinking about the system as a whole, they are able to focus on bringing innovative ideas into each improvement cycle.


Conduct an Initiative Audit

It’s hard for teams to innovate when they are pulled in competing directions. Before expecting innovation from your team, figure out if unnecessary initiatives are taking up time and energy. Conduct an initiative audit by asking your team to simply list all of the initiatives or projects they are working on. Align those initiatives to your strategic priorities and annual goals. If an initiative or project doesn’t align, consider getting rid of it. Why cloud valuable brain space with something that isn’t aligned?

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