By Patricia Montague, CAE, SNA Chief Executive Officer 2017-02-27 14:00:12
Innovation Doesn’t Just “Happen” REFLECTING ON THIS MONTH’S ARTICLES SHOWCASING SCHOOL CAFETERIAS THAT ARE “GOIN’ MOBILE,” I thought a lot about what it takes for school nutrition operations to implement such pioneering changes as vending machines that dispense reimbursable meals (page 44) or alternate breakfast service (page 34). In our fast-paced, technology-driven world, merely keeping up means we must innovate on a continual basis—and that requires focus, creativity and hard work. It’s abundantly clear that school nutrition professionals possess the qualities to build a culture where innovation thrives. It just takes a plan. Have a vision. Every organization should have a one-sentence vision statement that clearly communicates what it is that you are working toward. It should be short, inspirational and memorable. Whenever considering new ideas, allow your vision statement to serve as your guide. Then ask yourself and your team if these ideas will bring your operation closer to that vision. Set goals. The question isn’t whether you should set goals, but how to create goals that are achievable and will encourage more innovation. For many, doing something new can be scary and overwhelming. Remember, your goal doesn’t have to be huge to have an impact. You might begin by identifying a challenge, then setting goals that lead to new solutions. Be nimble. If there’s one thing that’s certain today, it’s uncertainty. While this can make some reluctant to move forward with big ideas, innovation and flexibility go hand-in-hand! You and your staff must stay engaged and keep looking forward in order to respond to changing times and circumstances. Revisit your vision and goals whenever new challenges arise. Don’t fear change. Innovation can be thrilling—but scary, too. Yes, failure is a possibility. But you will never grow if you let a fear of failure get in the way of pursuing new ideas. Remember, it’s not an all-or-nothing situation; you can change course or start over if something doesn’t work as intended. Invest in people. Innovation does not happen without passionate people. Like most investments, the more you put in, the greater the reward! Encourage those staffers who show a commitment to your vision. Promote engagement and continuing education. Plan regular team-building activities that spark ideas. This will ensure great ideas keep coming your way. Continue sharing these with your colleagues all across the country through this magazine and other opportunities!
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
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