116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
There is a clear connection between innovation and the efforts to foster diversity, equity and inclusion.
At NewBoCo, we routinely examine our processes, messages and programs for ways to be more inclusive, create additional paths to equity and increase the population we can serve.
While exploring the elements above, we employed the same tools that we use when we advise corporate innovation teams.
In the summer of 2020, NewBoCo — as with so many organizations — was faced with questions about how to advocate for DEI in our organization and for those we serve.
The initial answers to those questions were not pretty.
Our team agreed we wanted to transform our approach. We also encountered the challenge of where to start. Determining that starting point for DEI activities is where the overlap with innovation begins.
The NewBoCo team used some of the same approaches that we use in corporate innovation training and Intrapreneur Academy to determine our path forward.
These tactics are more powerful when approached with an open creative mindset, the innovation mindset.
Stakeholder interaction and feedback — Gather feedback using tools such as the Business Model Canvas or simple brainstorming techniques. Develop surveys that allow you to get opinions and ideas from the workforce and clients.
Talk to a wide variety of your stakeholders to gather perceptions, ideas, and feedback.
Prioritization efforts — Take a step back and review what you received from step one. Identify the themes, where the urgent needs were shared and what needed to stop based on that information.
You are left with a backlog of ideas to work from and constantly reprioritize based on changing environments.
Organizational change — Once through steps one and two, it becomes critical to take iterative action. This is a series of various actions to grow the organization’s DEI muscle.
It is important to take these steps deliberately and evaluate the shifts that happen as a result. From there, adapt the plan to the changes.
One thing is clear: If we continue to apply the same tools to our organizations that brought us to the mid-2020 state of awareness and interaction, nothing will shift.
However, if we innovate — using the three techniques shared as a starting point — organizations will see more engagement, a more diverse customer base, more stability and more constructive debate.
Dr. Jennifer Murphy is director of Innovation Services at NewBoCo in Cedar Rapids.