How to innovate in a radical (but not crazy) way

Friday - 1/21/2011, 2:58pm EST

Bill Taylor, author, Practically Radical

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The solution to a big problem may not be a big solution.

Rather, "The way you make big changes is to make a lot of small changes and improvements that collectively add up to something big," said Bill Taylor, author of Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself and co-founder of Fast Company magazine, in an interview with the DorobekINSIDER.

The age of austerity is actually a great time to look to the best practices to innovate at your agency, Taylor said.

"If things are working well in these circumstances, imagine how these ideas or practices will work when the world gets back to normal," Taylor said.

Taylor studied 25 organizations for his book and found that the past success of a company could both help and hurt. Some people, especially in government jobs, spend many years at the same agency working on the same problem. The good news is they acquire a dee expertise in their subject areas.

But, Taylor added, "the challenge is, How do you let what you know not limit what you can imagine?"

It's up the leaders in an organization to motivate the rank and file, requiring managers to be "really great storyteller," he said.

"Ultimately, the real work of change is transforming the energy and behaviors of rank and file people in the organization," Taylor said. "That really has very little to do with the formal org chart and the boxes and bubbles and the bureaucracy, and has everything to do with being able to paint a really compelling and attractive picture of the new kind of organization you want to have."

Innovation will be borne not out of thinking differently but caring more, Taylor said.

"I think folks in government intrinsically come to the work with a sense of commitment, with a sense of mission, a sense of caring, a real sense of the cause that should create the capabilities for embracing change and innovation," Taylor said.