innovation lab

Challenge Personnel

Senior leaders pick broad challenges that are aligned with mission critical business goals and then get out of the way to let employee teams own the process of finding solutions to these challenges. The concept is to motivate, coach and empower, not micro-manage.

  • Wildly Important Goals (WIGs) – WIGs are the central element to Sean Covey’s The 4 Disciplines of Execution, and this influential management approach has emerged as a key driver of innovation at MnDOT. It provides a simple, repeatable formula for executing on an organization’s most important strategic priorities. The four disciplines include:
    • Focusing on the wildly important;
    • Acting on lead measures;
    • Keeping a compelling scoreboard; and
    • Creating a cadence of accountability.
  • In 2014, MnDOT launched its Wildly Important Goal (WIG) 1.0 called ‘Enhancing Financial Effectiveness’ which was designed to generate major improvements in financial management and included the following sub-elements: budgeting by products and services, efficiencies, asset management, project management and information and outreach.
  • In 2016 MnDOT’s senior leadership began strategic planning for MnDOT’s WIG 2.0. The WIG 2.0 approach will use lessons learned from Enhancing Financial Effectiveness  WIG 1.0 and will be an agency-wide effort to identify MnDOT’s customers, what customers value, and how MnDOT can measure and improve customer outcomes.
  • Leaders set Google’s Strategic Goals and let innovation follow – Leadership’s approach at Google is to set out broad strategic goals, then step back to let employees innovate to achieve them. Setting the right challenges for employees to focus on is an important leadership role that is instrumental in creating and sustaining Google’s innovation culture.
  • Utilize teams and give them challenges- At Kiewit, their innovation team selects challenges on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Monthly challenges are generally small scale, while annual challenges are 4-6 month efforts led by teams of employees who are in the Kiewit leadership development academy. 


The Innovator’s DNA:  This article contends that an organization that wants to promote a culture of innovation needs to encourage questioning and experimentation and give employees the time to do these things.