Innovation in organizations is not a natural process as some people may think when considering the speed of changes and the large amounts of information nowadays. Creating a culture of solid innovation that actually promotes transformative change requires systematization and a purpose: a structure that embraces free thinking, diversity, relationship with different realities and contexts and, above all, leaders who stimulate the institution to be constantly changing.
Innovation in a company usually works in two main approaches: incremental, which is driven by the past, or radical, with potential to transform the future. Both ways demand critical analysis and some detachment to let go established patterns in order to search for new paths. The leader must focus on strategies, instead of operational aspects, assigning specific tasks to team members. Thus, he can devote himself to analyze previous experiences, study the usual practices in educational institutions and think ahead the long-term scenario.
Another challenge is to create a secure environment in which mistakes are accepted and even desirable, since new ideas emerge in uncertain and risky situations. Educational institutions often choose to remain stagnant, yet stable. For that matter, it is essential to involve parents and the school community in the innovation process, so that the families, the main maintainers of the schools, recognize that the primal values of the institution do not change when the school ventures into new directions and proposes edgy thinkings.
It is also important to create an horizontal arrangement for innovation initiatives, rather than centralizing these activities under a few leaders responsibility. Thus, anyone from school community, employees, administrative staff, students until parents, feels responsible for adding to the innovation system, which makes it richer, diverse and sustainable. If a leader is replaced, the innovative mindset continues in the institution’s DNA.
Finally, it is essential that the school leader preserve the innovative spirit and the curiosity, continue to develop his observations skills, maintaining an inquiring position, being alert to social transformations and keeping genuine interest in developing solutions that actually improves people’s routine.