Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

How to Cultivate a Culture of Innovation

Photo by Caitlin Fairchild

On Sept. 6, I had the opportunity to deliver a keynote entitled “Leading Innovation” at Excellence in Government Live. Reflecting on my 24 year career with DoD, I’m always awed by the new opportunities in the federal landscape thanks to the enabling power of new technology and innovative tools—tools that we literally hold in our hands. When you think about government, innovation and leadership, it’s a different world today than it was even just a few years ago.

Each of us has the opportunity to embrace the future—but we must first enable it. We have to step up and into positions, deciding intentionally to make a difference. At the Defense Department, we’re working each day to integrate strategy, policies, processes and information technology. We’re streamlining and improving our business operations in support of national security, all while becoming more innovative and forward thinking.

If I were to identify four key things that are pivotal in cultivating a culture of innovation, I’d offer these:

1. Strategic Organizational Alignment Delivers Results. Identify the business outcomes you want to achieve and then determine how your organization is structured to do that.

2. Defining Clear Roles and Responsibilities Contributes to Accountability. Everyone has a contribution to make. It is important to understand what contributions people make and to align them to the outcome you want to achieve.

3. Measure Your Progress. Track progress. You have alignment to strategy, you’ve articulated roles and responsibilities, and the only way to know if you are achieving them is to measure them in some way.

4. Stepping Up to Lead is Critical to Affect Change. If you are in a position where you can make a difference, you have the opportunity and responsibility to lead. 

Want more Excellence in Government? Follow us on Twitter | Facebook | Google + | LinkedIn

Ms. Elizabeth (Beth) A. McGrath was sworn in as the Department’s first Deputy Chief Management Officer, a Senate-confirmed and politically appointed position, on July 1, 2010. Ms. McGrath leads the Department’s efforts to better synchronize, integrate and coordinate DoD business operations and serves as the Principal Staff Assistant (PSA) and advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense for matters relating to management and improvement of business operations. She also serves as the DoD Performance Improvement Officer and is responsible for formulating the legislatively mandated Departmental Strategic Management Plan.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.