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How to Promote Workplace Innovation and Continuous Improvement?

A documentary case study program to inspire everyone to be creative, offer suggestions and make improvements. Identify opportunities to improve and teach employees and leaders how to develop and brainstorm new ideas by learning how to replicate the proven success of others.

How to Promote Workplace Innovation and Continuous Improvement?

It is vital to refine and continually refresh your organization to keep moving ahead. When mistakes are made, allow for staff to learn from them and improve, and when success is achieved, ensure it’s recognized and celebrated. Embrace change and revolutionize the way you conduct business.

This program is designed to help people develop skills and enthusiasm for being creative and innovative.

Content Summary

Identify Opportunities to Improve
Develop New Ideas
Implement Initiatives
Evaluate and Learn
Key Learning Points
Target audience
Methods of use
Training needs and desired learning outcomes
Discussion questions
Activity 1: Innovation and Continuous Improvement Program Review
Activity 2: Innovation and Continuous Improvement

Every organization needs great leaders and staff to deliver the best results, and these skills can be learned from real-life case studies in best-practice organizations. This program demonstrates a range of skills and examples to get people at all levels excited about their jobs and motivated to achieve results.

This article documenting the best practices in an online recruitment business, a travel business, a city government, and a school. The strategies and skills to be learned will improve the standard of excellence throughout your organization and help your workforce shine.


It is vital to refine and continually refresh your organization to keep moving ahead. By identifying opportunities to improve you will achieve a competitive edge. Ideas can be found from many sources: encourage suggestions from all staff, invite feedback and seek inspiration from outside the organization and replicate it. Implement and support changes and encourage new developments. When mistakes are made, allow for staff to learn from them and improve, and when success is achieved, ensure it’s recognized and celebrated. Embrace change and revolutionize the way you conduct business.

Identify Opportunities to Improve

When I look at Council’s innovation I see a lot of it is continuous improvement. It’s people wanting to do their job better.

Ask clients and talk to the team

Two ways of identifying issues in your business, and how to improve on them. The first one is to go out and ask clients. These are people who refer business to you who are passionate about your business and will be more than happy to tell you where you can make improvements in your business. The second place is to go to your team.

GLENYCE JOHNSON: How are you guys? Every time I catch up with a group of people, I learn something about what can be improved.

JUDE MUNRO: We’ve had, for many years, an employee survey called the Your Voice survey. So once a year we ask a series of questions.

Survey staff

GLENYCE JOHNSON: The climate survey, so that’s all around everybody in the organization having a voice. It’s all-around job satisfaction, management, reward, client service.

JUDE MUNRO: And we report back to the employees, both with what the results are but also what our action plan is for the next year to address the issues.

Report to employees the results and action plans to address issues

Conduct exit interview

GLENYCE JOHNSON: With exit interview, it’s important to understand if there was something that they weren’t happy with or the catalyst for them moving on.

JAMES LAW: Rob, thanks for your time today.
ROB: No problems

JAMES LAW: We do exit interviews with all employees.

JAMES LAW: So Rob, what other comments can you make about SEEK that would help us become a better place to work? And be as open and honest as you can.

JAMES LAW: So anything that they consider we could improve, so it might be some feedback for their manager so they can improve their management techniques.

GLENYCE JOHNSON: It’s around getting as much feedback as we can get to understand what we can improve on.

Develop New Ideas

SIMON O’KELLY: In our industry, we always need to come up with some innovative products.

LENYCE JOHNSON: How we get more innovation into our product? What can we do to be the leader and not the follower?

SIMON O’KELLY: So in the Destination teams, they will have discussions and throw out weird and wacky ideas, which is encouraged, like a Think Tank to come up with the different ideas.

GLENYCE JOHNSON: We’re going to call for volunteers next week that want to talk about what they think we can do. Let’s get everyone’s heads together that have got ideas.

SIMON O’KELLY: And put them into a room and really encourage that creative thinking.

BRIGID CAREY: In the Ideas Bank on level five, that’s used for collaborative thinking, brainstorming, or problem-solving. There’s a creative team who will look at our website and try and improve it for our users. So there’s a lot of brainstorming there and finding ways to do things better.

JEN BARTLETT: In our innovation program we get a multi-discipline, multi-seniority group of people together around the target, and it might be, “How are we going to achieve our network of bikeways 20 years earlier?

KEVIN WALLER: Do we have any ideas about how

JEN BARTLETT: And it really sharpens people’s minds, and then they come up with a plethora of ideas, which then go up to the CEO and then godown to the program areas for further investigation. So, it just keeps that vision rolling in terms of it actually happening.

SADHANA SMILES: One of the best ways is to say to people: “This is the issue that we have on the table. This is where we want our business to be in, in six months. How are we going to get there? I’d love(SMALL GROUPS WORKING ON IDEAS) all of you to go off and write a mini-business plan about where you see this business going.

Invite strategy ideas to achieve a goal
Review and choose the best ideas

And then take all of the ideas, and put them up on a wall, and say, “Let’s pick the ten best.”

JEN BARTLETT: Here’s an example actually of a Council officer who works in the Social Policy area and she’d heard about a program called Homeless Connect. So she spent a day of her holiday talking to someone from Tennessee who’d rolled out that program.

Review success of others
Harvest and implement new ideas

So, in a sense, it’s the harvesting of ideas and bringing them back, and basically, it’s a program that the City Hall is open to the people who sleep on the streets. And there were podiatrists, and accommodation people and doctors, and dentists. And that’s really, really grown. We’re having two a year.

JUDE MUNRO: Ideas that come from other places, they’re sometimes, you can’t replicate them, but in a lot of cases, you can. And I think that’s the heart of innovation, is not just coming up with the ideas yourselves, but also looking at what’s the best in the world.

Replicate others’ success: Find -> Promote -> Replicate

JEN BARTLETT: Our innovation strategy is to find, promote and replicate.

SADHANA SMILES: “So which business would I like to be like and how do I become them? How can I mimic them? How can I adapt to be them?”And then, work out what those key areas are and then look back into your own business and say: “Right how do I bring those areas, how do I bring those products, those services etcetera into my business?”

Implement Initiatives

JUDE MUNRO: Well it’s been very interesting asking the question: “What are the ideas that you’d really like to have happened in this city?” Two ideas have come up very strongly: “When you put in a dedicated busway, why isn’t there a bike path as part of that busway?” For a very hilly city, you’d be able to move very quickly on very smooth surfaces so we could have more cycling to work.

JANE MORGAN: Don’t spend years and years and years trying to come up with the right answer. Do enough analysis and then pick out a couple of things you think will make, might make a difference, and go for it.

JEN BARTLETT: Then you get Council employees who are responsible for re-vegetating the waterways and rebuilding those corridors, coming up with a really groovy idea called a Habitat Sausage, which is a way to stabilize a steep bank. And they actually invented this kind of geothermal bag. They fill it with soil, they embed it in these steep banks. They plant the right soil-matting plants and their innovation.

JUDE MUNRO: I’d like to tell you the story about the Karawatha Nature Arch. This started from us upgrading a two-lane road into a four-lane road, and it bisected two major pieces of forest and it was a major wildlife corridor. Here were two goals, mobility for the city and an environmentally sensitive city, and there they were, right at that point clashing. So in the end, what was decided was to put fences along the road and to put three crossings: culverts under the road; a fauna bridge over the road, and then what was called an arboreal bridge, right up to high, for the capacity for gliders to cross. So these are squirrel gliders that effectively fly but they only have a limited capacity,40 meters. The great thing is, there’s evidence that kangaroos, koalas, they’re all using those crossings. So two normally antithetical areas, the greenery, and roads can actually be in harmony.

JEN BARTLETT: We have a CEO who passionate about innovation, encourages it. One of our values is the courage to make a difference.

UDE MUNRO: I think in big organizations if you start a campaign or you start an initiative, don’t lose that initiative, but refresh it. Reinvigorate it. Give it a different title. Give it a new twist. And then, encourage people to get behind that new refresh.

Evaluate and Learn

UDE MUNRO: One of the things about failures is to learn from them and then move on. It’s so important to learn from them.

CAROLINE WILSON: We’re encouraged to go out and try different things and if you do make a mistake that’s fine because you learn more from mistakes than you do from the things that you do right.

Encourage staff to try things
Learn from mistakes

SADHANA SMILES: Learning from failures and mistakes is how we all learn and how businesses learn.

JUDE MUNRO: I think one of the tricks is to know, not so much about failure, but when a particular course of action has run its course.

SADHANA SMILES: Implementing new initiatives there often isn’t one right answer, and quite often you know, it’s angst time in a business because, as you go halfway through, you might realize that perhaps it was the wrong decision.

JANE MORGAN: Try it out. If it doesn’t work, so what? You’ve done one small experiment, dump that, try the next things. Mostly, some of it will work and then, you try it again and make the changes.

SADHANA SMILES: But be open to the fact that the idea you started with initially may not look anything like it by the time you actually implement it.

JUDE MUNRO: So this is one of the things about ideas and innovation is once you’ve got it, you have to practice it again and not lose it.


  • Identify opportunities to improve
  • Develop new ideas
  • Implement initiatives
  • Evaluate and learn

Key Learning Points

Innovation and continuous improvement are vital for the future of a successful organization. Inspire everyone to be creative, offer suggestions, and make improvements:

  • Identify opportunities to improve
    • Ask clients
    • Talk to team
    • Survey staff
    • Conduct exit interviews
  • Develop new ideas
    • Brainstorm ideas
    • Replicate others’ success
      • Find -> Promote -> Replicate
    • Use think tanks
    • Ask your employees
    • Focus on good ideas
  • Implement initiatives
  • Evaluate and learn

Target audience

This article use across all organizations including government, corporations, small businesses, educational institutions, associations, and service providers.

This article can be used to develop and inspire:

  • Senior leadership teams
  • Managers, team leaders, and supervisors
  • Boards and committees of management
  • Teams and all staff
  • Small business owners
  • Consultants, trainers, and coaches
  • Academics and lecturers
  • Students undertaking business studies

Methods of use

This article has been designed to be used as either a full program or as segments that stand alone and deliver key points. There are a wide variety of uses depending on development needs, desired to learning outcomes, and available time, including:

  • Innovation teams
  • Quality committees
  • Workshops and seminars
  • Lectures and debates
  • Remote workers
  • Mentoring sessions
  • Coaching one-on-one or in small groups
  • Private study at work or home
  • Online learning
  • Induction programs
  • Cross-team planning sessions

Training needs and desired learning outcomes

An excellent program with a wide variety of uses:

  • To empower people at all levels to make suggestions for improvement
  • To inspire people to improve their performance and processes
  • To develop leaders, project managers, and potential leaders
  • To provide an inspiring start to a brainstorming session
  • To find ways to be creative and continuously improve, even working online
  • To begin reviewing the current innovation practices of the organization with any group of stakeholders
  • To re-energize and motivate people towards innovation and continuous improvement in the workplace
  • To present to stakeholders to start a discussion to invite new ideas
  • To develop creative thinking
  • To develop a better understanding of how innovation relates to the success of the organization
  • To assist a quality committee to clarify their role
  • To develop a culture of implementing and supporting change and improvements•For induction training to present the business as one that places a high value on innovation and continuous improvement

Discussion questions

  1. What ideas did you see in this program that motivated you and why?
  2. What are some effective ways to find new ideas that you could adapt to your business/team?
  3. What type of information can be obtained from climate surveys?
  4. What are ways in which you can identify issues in your workplace, even how the business works with people working remotely?
  5. How can this program be used to encourage all staff to improve?
  6. How can clients be used in the continuous improvement of an organization?
  7. Why are exit interviews valuable?
  8. How can you ensure an exit interview is productive and that the person departing provides honest feedback?
  9. How are staff currently encouraged to generate innovative ideas in your business? What would improve the situation?
  10. What are the benefits of looking at the successes of other businesses and organizations? How can their strategies be a guide for improvement in your workplace?
  11. How can staff be encouraged to come up with or try new ideas or strategies for improvement?
  12. How does your team manage mistakes? Is there a better way -how?
  13. How can failures in innovation be handled so staff is still encouraged to try new ideas?
  14. How can innovation become formalized in an organization’s practice?
  15. What types of meeting structures could be used to encourage the development of innovative ideas?
  16. How could innovative ideas be effectively fed back to management for consideration?
  17. What kind of feedback can be used in continuous improvement and how should it be gathered?
  18. How would you implement the ‘find, promote and replicate’ process successfully in your business?
  19. How should improvements and innovation be acknowledged and celebrated in your workplace?

Activity 1: Innovation and Continuous Improvement Program Review

A practical exercise designed to enhance concentration and retention through note-taking during viewing. Make notes on key points covered in each of the sections of the program:

  1. Identify opportunities to improve
  2. Develop new ideas
  3. Implement initiatives
  4. Evaluate and learn

Activity 2: Innovation and Continuous Improvement

This exercise is designed to encourage participants to see the strong relationship between feedback and innovation and an organization’s capacity for continuous improvement.

Divide participants into small groups and allocate the following tasks to different groups. After an agreed period of at least 30 minutes, ask participants to present back to the group. As a result of the groups’ ideas, create an action list for implementation back at work.

  1. What type of information and feedback would you like to gain from your employees? Devise topic areas for a climate survey, and if time develops a simple list of questions. Be prepared to present the climate survey to the larger group so you get their “buy-in” to improve it and have it adopted throughout the organization.
  2. What specific feedback would you find valuable when conducting an exit interview? Plan out an exit interview and be prepared to demonstrate it to the larger group.
  3. Develop a think tank strategy for a particular process, product, or service. Run it in your small group and consider the outcomes. Refine your strategy and demonstrate it to the larger group –inviting their input –so you succeed in coming up with an improved process or service.
  4. Consider a change or improvement you would like to implement within your business. What communication and training would be required for employees? Be prepared to present this to the larger group so you “sell” the new idea and outline or involve the group in the training.
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