The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Innovation at Work

Innovate: to introduce something new, to make changes in anything established (from; to do something in a new way; to have new ideas about how something can be done (from Merriam-Webster)

HiResWould you call yourself innovative? How about your department or team — innovators and change agents, or not so much?

If you answered “no,” take heart! Lisa Bodell, globally recognized innovation leader and futurist and founder of innovation research and training firm futurethink, asserts that we all have the innate ability to be innovative, we just have to break out of our comfort zones and embrace the “what ifs.” And in doing so, we can contribute to (or even lead!) real and lasting change in our organizations.

So what does an innovator look like? According to Bodell, among an innovator’s inherent traits are strategic thinking, curiosity, imagination, resilience and agility. And in order to nurture these characteristics in individuals, Bodell says organizational leadership must allow room for innovation — leaders must give employees the freedom to think big, reinforce the notion that no idea is too “out there,” make sure every idea is acknowledged and considered, create opportunities for collaboration, showcase and applaud change agents in the organization, and lead by example. Otherwise, says Bodell, innovation is nothing more than lip service, and if we want to upend the playing field, lip service just won’t cut it.

How will you tap into your inner innovator? How can you help your colleagues do the same? Does your organization’s leadership foster innovation?

Ahead of the CUPA-HR annual conference this fall, where we’re pleased to welcome Lisa Bodell as a keynote speaker, we sat down with her to talk about innovation and change — and how easily we can help shape the future of our organizations if we’re simply open to shaking things up a bit. Read our “Innovation 101” Q&A with her.