Innovation Projects vary considerably in size and scope, reflecting the specific context of each workplace. They may be targeted directly at the introduction of new workplace practices such as self-organised teamworking or rethinking performance appraisal systems. On the other hand, they may focus on the development of new products or services by piloting innovative approaches to employee participation or cross-functional collaboration.
Projects led by individual Programme participants may be somewhat narrower in scope, though this is not necessarily the case because other people from the organisation can also be brought in as active participants. Previous examples include the introduction of continuous improvement practices within a single team, or identifying technical options for a company-wide ideation platform.
Group Projects should be ambitious, involving closely co-ordinated collaboration between members and making a tangible contribution to achieving the vision for change. For example, one company, committed to the creation of a flatter structure based on delegation of decision-making, identified six ‘Focus Areas’ as the framework for collaborative action by task groups, each representing different functional areas and levels of seniority:
- Emotionally intelligent leadership and culture
- Redesigning management roles and responsibilities
- Self-organised teamworking
- Employee-driven innovation
- Rethinking Performance
- Employee voice and business strategy
The remainder of this section explores your role as a Senior Practitioner in Action Planning for each Innovation Project.
As part of their individual or group Innovation Project, each Practitioner Programme participant is responsible for preparing and continuously updating an Action Plan. This forms part of their final assessment, and successful fulfilment will require close support and guidance both from you as a Senior Practitioner and from our team.
Every individual participant must complete the Action Plan questions in their Learning Log. These questions address the alignment of their Project with organisational priorities, the Project’s objectives, how employees and other stakeholders are involved, the approach to implementation, and how progress is being monitored and evaluated (see Your Innovation Project Action Plan in the Practitioner Programme). Participants can discuss their answers to these questions during their one-to-one meetings with you, either in person or remotely using screen sharing.
Action Plan templates
Innovation Projects can take many forms. They can focus directly on changing workplace practices, for example in response to Workplace Innovation Diagnostic® results. On the other hand, the main focus may be on the development of a new product or service in ways that require innovative ways of working – for example stimulating creative thinking by bringing people together across teams and departments. Based on extensive experience with earlier versions of the Action Plan, we now offer participants different templates to reflect the particular characteristics of their Innovation Project.
For most individual projects, it will be sufficient to use the Action Plan Learning Log questions in the Practitioner Programme.
Templates for group Projects are available online via a customised link sent to participants. Templates can be accessed remotely by group members, Senior Practitioners and your tutors, enabling Action Plans to be developed collaboratively through video conferencing.
Some Innovation Projects, notably those focused on significant changes to workplace practices, may be advised to use an Action Plan template based on The Essential Fifth Element. Each individual or group Action Plan can focus on change initiatives embracing one or more Elements, but must also tackle the Interdependencies in other Elements that will influence the outcome (see below).
Depending on the nature of their Project, individuals or groups will be directed towards an Action Plan template targeted at changes relating to a single Element or, in the case of larger-scale organisational transformations, to a comprehensive template addressing all four Elements.
An annotated example of an Element-based template is illustrated below. It invites participants to identify a broad goal or vision for the workplace practices represented by each Element:
Having identified the broad Goal or vision for the Element, participants now need to identify the precise Actions that will help to achieve it. Each Element is broken down into two or three Themes, each representing a coherent bundle of working practices that also form the reporting structure for the Workplace Innovation Diagnostic®. Each Theme is also designed to act as a clear focus for potential change, for example:
The Action Plan takes participants step-by-step towards designing appropriate change initiatives under each Theme, each of which must support the overall Goal for the Element as a whole:
Throughout the Programme we place considerable emphasis on the interdependence between the different Elements – so if you’re trying to change practices in one Element, you’ll need to pay attention to those practices in the others that will either reinforce or undermine your chances of success. We call these Interdependencies.
As an example, the box below asks participants to consider the Interdependencies affecting proposed actions relating to Jobs, Teams & Technology:
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