A leadership team that doesn’t value, practice and ‘live’ innovation is hardly likely to create the innovative culture needed for a successful framework.
The leadership that drives innovation needs to be visible. Somebody must ‘own’ innovation and value along with the wider framework objectives. They will ultimately be responsible for ensuring goals and values are understood, shared and pursued.
Shared and consistent goals give shape and purpose to innovation – it’s all very well trying new things but what are we actually trying to accomplish?
But shared goals are, literally, meaningless unless they are highly visible and communicated in straightforward language, in ways that everyone can relate to their everyday tasks.
Creating and embedding a creative culture is all about how we encourage, challenge and empower all our people to make decisions in the best interest of the whole community. Framework objectives and lifetime value must take priority over organisational or individual project objectives.
How does this happen? Through workshops, deep dives, stand downs, team briefings and one-to-one discussions to ensure objectives and principles are clearly communicated and fully understood. It also needs leadership role models who consistently display the right behaviours. The community must celebrate successes and learn from mistakes, collectively and consistently.
In an innovative culture, decisions are driven by what will add most value to the framework and to the lifetime of the asset. Roles are performed by the best person for the job, regardless of which organisation they work for.
The value driven approach is reinforced through individual job descriptions and development plans, leadership development, and through succession plans focused on the needs of the community.
Our leaders must understand and consistently show the key collaborative behaviours: accountability, responsibility, innovation and continuous improvement. They support each other to outperform, they offer and accept honest feedback and demonstrate engagement, trust and respect.
Innovation is the key to lower lifetime maintenance costs, increased safety, maximum asset availability (for example by coordinating highways interventions with other stakeholders), social value and environmental improvement.
The mechanics of innovation include working with stakeholder teams through project teams, innovation workshops, R&D forums and strategic use of R&D funding.
Co-located teams are also essential to engender shared ownership of common goals. Teams need integrated systems, open environments, aligned goals and the freedom to challenge convention.
If all of this demonstrates nothing else, it shows that genuine and sustained innovation involves much more than coming up with good ideas.