Wednesday, 2 November 2016

How do you lead innovation?

Image result for pictures of innovationInnovation is a big catch phrase in education these days. When our mission and vision were collaboratively written around six years ago, we actually included this concept as a part of our mission statement (were we being innovative by thinking about this concept way before it was so popular??)

We said that Bradbury School "builds strong foundations in a dynamic, innovative, and enjoyable learning environment".

So how do we do this?

Firstly, promoting innovation for innovation's sake and/or just to be different, is often a mistake. The process of innovation, while absolutely critical to progress and an integral part of achieving and maintaining excellence, must  be managed through a strategically based leadership approach that guides the process of innovation soundly to the overall goals, mission and vision of our school.

To my thinking, this requires a two pronged approach, starting with a top down process, but subsequently heavily reliant on the bottom up feedback loop:

In terms of top down- I see that an important role of leadership in our school is to set the stage. Firstly, by making sure that everyone clearly understands the goals and objectives of Bradbury.

Secondly, leadership needs to create an environment where innovation can take hold and flourish, within the framework of the school's strategic vision. This means fostering the understanding and belief that people are encouraged to think about their roles creatively and within these parametres, take 'smart risks'.

'Smart risks' means risks that are clearly defined and understood in the context of assuming of how such a risk, may, if successful, further the goals and objectives set out by the strategic vision.

Just as it is unwise to change for change's sake; it can be unwise to push innovation purely for innovation's sake.


  1. I’ve done extensive research and written papers on innovation as well as advised companies on innovation management in my previous life as a consultant and your post rings true. Having a formal structure in place for capturing the bottom up feedback is essential, as is having a cultural attitude in which everyone naturally thinks “how can I do this better or smarter?” I have said it before but it’s worth saying again: I think you do this really well at Bradbury!

    1. Hi Lisa, thank you for your comment, I agree, the idea of innovation within the context of smart goals and a favourable culture within a formal structure means that innovation supports school direction. I would love to talk more to you about this, given your background!BTW, I had posted your comment twice, which is why the below shows it as being deleted!

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  3. "Innovation can't be owned or obtained, it needs to be allowed. We cannot tell innovative people to be innovative, but we can let them." – Eric Schmidt (Executive Chairman of Alphabet, Inc [Google])

    Great post Sandra. Fantastic to see Bradbury focussing on this in your teaching.

    As Lisa said above, having a culture of allowing, encouraging, and valuing critical thinking, which may be at odds with current processes and/or individual's own current views, is key to growth – both personal and organisational.

    1. Thanks Andy, great quote, same goes for 'creativity', I think- or maybe they are the same?