How to drive innovation at your agency

Tuesday - 9/28/2010, 5:02pm EDT

Paul Tesluk, co-director, Center for Leadership, Innovation and Change, University of Maryland

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By Olivia Branco
Federal News Radio

Innovation, leadership and change are all integral parts of any organization. But how exactly do you go about those ideas? There's a new center at the University of Maryland that hopes to help.

Paul Tesluk is the head of the Center for Leadership, Innovation and Change and he joined Chris Dorobek on The Dorobek Insider and talked about what exactly they hope to accomplish.

"We've worked with organizations both in the federal government side and the private side," Tesluk said, "organizations that are trying to be adaptive, to trying to innovate and wrestling with the challenges of organizations change, constantly come back to issues relating to leadership."

Tesluk said to focus on the leadership in order to change and innovate the corporate culture of an organization.

"What we've found both in our research and in our working hand-in-hand that are going through challenges like how do you build an innovative culture, how do you manage organizational change, whether it be of the more radical, highly disruptive form or just managing the day-to-day challenges that are related to moving an organization forward. It comes down to leadership."

But it might not be the leadership you're thinking of.

"One of the things we're finding is that what that means from a leadership standpoint is that people at all levels within an organization really need to bring forth leadership qualities. It's not just leadership from the top, it's leadership at all levels."

"It's frontline leaders, its middle-level leaders and it's also shared forms and distributed forms of leadership. These are areas that we don't know nearly enough about both from research and in terms of best practice. Thats what the Center is all about: to understand those things and to share the best practice and involve organizations in leading edge research that will then help them deal with these challenges related to innovation and change."

Tesluk knows, however, it isn't always easy to make a change and to innovate. But he said it's still important to invest in the future of your company even during tough times.

"In times like this when we're facing this ongoing, protracted recession and slowed recovery efforts. It's really an opportunity to make investments. And if we're going to be carried through with this, whether we're talking the private sector also in terms of innovations that come under the federal side as well, it's really going to come down to more effective and better and more innovative leadership and that's one thing we hope we can contribute to."