A Senior Practitioner Guide
Individual or Group Innovation Projects form an essential part of the Workplace Innovation Practitioner Programme. Projects enable participants to translate their knowledge gained from the Programme into practice, and to learn by doing. Equally important, the Innovation Projects deliver real benefits to participants’ organisations, for example by enhancing performance, capacity for innovation, and employee engagement and wellbeing.
Every Innovation Project is based on an Action Plan that provides a structured way of ensuring alignment with organisational priorities, identifies clear objectives, outlines a robust approach to engaging employees and other stakeholders, maps a considered approach to implementation, and defines a system of monitoring and evaluation. Preparing and updating the Action Plan is primarily the responsibility of participants and forms part of their final assessment. It is completed online with support and guidance both from Senior Practitioners and from our team.
Online Action Plan templates provides participants with a guided, step-by-step process from idea generation to implementation. However all Innovation Projects are different, and written guidance alone can never be sufficient to help participants create effective and sustainable actions in every type of workplace.
As a Senior Practitioner, you will be coaching and mentoring Practitioner Programme participants from your organisation as they formulate and implement their Innovation Project Action Plans, either individually or in groups. This module provides you with practical guidance to support effective Action Planning, ensuring that it is both inclusive and fully aligned with your organisations values and strategic goals.
There are five principal dimensions to your role as an Innovation Project coach and mentor:
1. Guiding and supporting participants as they engage wider groups of colleagues in the Action Planning process
We know that change is more effective and sustainable when it is designed and implemented with those affected. As a Senior Practitioner, you play an important role in helping Programme participants to understand that they need to involve others in the Action Planning process at the earliest possible stage – and ensuring they have the support to do so. The Engagement section of The Fifth Element: People-Centred Change module has practical ideas and advice on how to get others involved.
2. Ensuring the right resources are in place
Experience tells us that one of the biggest frustrations in engaging people in workplace innovation is that they’re not given sufficient time or permission to step back from their normal tasks. Senior teams sign up to ambitious plans for employee participation in organisational change but then don’t follow through with appropriate actions. Line managers are then facing contradictory pressures – on the one hand to allow their team members time to be involved in, for example, Innovation Projects and working groups, and on the other hand to meet everyday deadlines and targets with no additional resources. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this conundrum but it does need to be addressed directly. Finding a resolution – whether by allocating dedicated time budgets, providing backfill or other means – will help to determine your effectiveness as a Senior Practitioner. Playing a strong advocacy role in bringing the issue to the senior team at an early stage could make all the difference.
3. Coaching, building confidence and strengthening resilience
The Workplace Innovation Practitioner Programme asks participants to analyse and challenge existing organisational structures and workplace practices drawing on evidence, inspiring cases and practical tools. Participants also gain an understanding of how to engage and empower others to help make change happen. Nonetheless they may encounter inertia, lack of trust, resistance, and even self-doubt. This is where your coaching role comes in (see the Using Coaching Principles to Transform Workplace Relationships module), and you need to be aware of how each individual and group is dealing with the challenge of designing and implementing their own change initiative within their Action Plans. In addition to ensuring that each participant is sufficiently empowered (through, for example, senior team buy-in and the allocation of time and resources), you can help them to build their own mandate, as discussed in the Advanced People-Centred Change module.
4. Encouraging participants to draw widely on ideas, examples and practical resources from the Fresh Thinking Labs platform
The Workplace Innovation Practitioner Programme enables participants and their organisations to embark on a journey of learning and experimentation. The e-learning content isn’t designed as a step-by-step recipe book for organisational transformation; rather it offers a blended combination of evidence, generic principles, inspiring examples and practical tools. Participants bring knowledge and expertise about their own organisation; their task is to assimilate and contextualise newly-acquired insights from the Programme into practical change within their own workplaces, assisted both by you and by the Workplace Innovation Europe team.
You will already be familiar with the content of the Practitioner e-learning platform but please revisit it regularly for updates and additions, especially those modules which relate closely to your key Diagnostic findings and priorities for change. You play an important role in helping participants to assimilate lessons from the platform material, and to understand how it may be adapted to their own workplaces. For example, you can ask them to analyse a particular case example or article and then explore its relevance for their own Innovation Projects.
5. Aligning Innovation Projects to your organisation’s vision for change
Innovation Projects are both central to the personal learning and development experience of participants in the Programme and a potentially powerful resource for helping to bring about the transformation of working practices and culture in your organisation. As a Senior Practitioner, you have a key role to play in helping to shaping the design and guiding implementation of Projects, ensuring that they make a significant contribution to the organisation’s vision for change and, in turn, to its strategic goals.
Even if a Project proposal appears to be valuable in its own right, it will represent a missed opportunity if it does not move realisation of the wider vision for change measurably forward. There will be plenty of time in the future to pursue other good ideas – indeed, your challenge is to make idea generation ‘business as usual’.
The following sections ask you to define the strategic framework for Innovation Projects by:
- appraising your organisation’s values, strategy and objectives;
- analysing the extent to which workplace practices are aligned or misaligned with values and strategy;
- defining an overall vision for organisational change and transformation;
- preparing a Strategic Action Plan to guide the alignment of Innovation Projects with the overall vision.
The final section of this module then discusses the practical support you can offer participants in designing their individual or group Action Plans.
Complete all objectives in this section: