innovation lab

Foster an ‘its your baby’ attitude

Without ownership, good ideas can easily die on the vine. DOTs must work to give ownership to idea generators by letting them prove the business case and then committing to implement where the case is proven. To avoid an ‘its not my baby’ attitude among employees, avoid a strict ‘gate-keeper’ culture around innovation, in which a small group anoints ideas; there is no way that will kill an innovation program more quickly. Instead foster an organic approach where individuals and teams are authorized to run with their ideas, but held accountable to prove their merit.

  • ITD uses employee ‘Innovation Stewards’ as Ambassadors - ITD established its ‘innovation stewards’ initiative in October 2015 to help spread innovation throughout the Department.  Innovation stewards are often front line staff who have the trust and respect of their peers and also share a passion for being ‘early adopters.’ In addition to doing their ‘day job,’ innovation stewards help other staff develop, submit and implement innovation ideas.


The CalTrans Fostering Innovation report describes how in Louisiana, people who suggest innovations are expected to champion implementation of change. The report also provides this quote from MnDOT: “We don’t just want idea people; we want people who will be responsible for making ideas into reality.”