Encouraging Innovation at the Workplace

ISSUE #67 – Laure-Emmanuelle Carra (pictured below), Manager Operational Excellence at Weave, shares about cultivating an innovative team and management practices in lean roadmaps.


Operation Excellence programs, such as Lean Management are often narrowed down to a mere process improvement… but we tend to forget that processes are run by people.

Much evidence shows that achieving sustainable performance comes with motivating teams, therefore it is important to involve management from the very beginning.


Transforming our behaviors is easier said than done: how to start?

Firstly, we need to examine how the company runs its working methods and managerial culture. This assessment is done by:

  • Interviewing employees and managers to hear their feedback about managerial culture,
  • Observing on-the-job situations to observe how the teams work. It complements the interviews as it gives us a real picture of the organization. Such situations can be:
    • Regular meetings
    • A Day In the Life Of (DILO) where we follow a manager for a few hours

Here is an overview of the challenges commonly found:

  • Management style that can disempower and even infantilize teams
  • Inefficient or inadequate decisions making process
  • Teams working in a non-collaborative fashion, focused on local optimization without a holistic vision
  • Defensive culture where people protect themselves instead of collectively solving problems

We then share the outcomes in a participatory workshop: this way the teams can provide comment, rather than a one-sided presentation.

Before implementing anything, we narrow down the topics , rather than working on everything. For instance, voting collectively or conducting a cost-benefit comparison can help prioritize the topics to launch.


How do we implement the change?

To translate new practices into daily habits, communication or training campaigns are not enough and need to be complemented with other approaches.

1. Experimenting

First, we organise working groups involving around 10 managers to identify new practices. They play a key role as human nature tends to lead us back to our old habits. It is only by reenacting these new practices that we learn to change our behaviors. Part of the solution may require participants to define one precise task for the next week and monitor the outcomes (e.g.: next week, I will give a feedback to my collaborator when she presents her project).

2. Reenacting

We design activity kits to help our customers drive thesessions themselves. This approach is suitable when the large organization requires us to rely on the managers to animate simple and fun scenarios. Moreover, it boosts their leadership and make them role model of the transformation.

3. Measuring

What can’t be measured can’t be improved. For this reason, implementing Key Behaviors Indicators is key to track the progress of the management practices.




Interview with Laure-Emmanuelle Carra, Manager Operational Excellenece, Weave

Published in FOCUS Magazine — Issue #3 2018 “The Innovation Issue