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In a recent meeting, Rocky Mount’s City Manager, Mr. Charles Penny, stated that “the most innovative thing is not always the flashiest thing.” I find this to be very true. So often, I think that people equate innovation with cutting edge tools and processes, which admittedly is very important, but “best practices” tend to get a bad reputation. However, best practices have their place in innovation.

The truth of the matter is, your best tools are only as good as the leaders who implement them. The human resource frame of leadership comes most naturally to me. I believe organizations that recognize a good fit benefits individuals and the organization as a whole will receive the best results from their employees. Some people use the best practices approach as a way to get around creating ideas of their own, but best practices can be a powerful platform for innovation.

The key to using the best practices approach is recognizing an idea that was perfect for one organization will need to be customized in order to perform well at another. Context and constraints, as well as possible advantages have to be taken into consideration in order for any course of action to be successful. What better people to recognize those areas than employees who are motivated to put their energy, talent and ideas into an organization where they feel valued?

My take on best practices is that with the right people, the term is understood to be transient. In government, our job is to serve the people. Best practice simply means understanding that someone has found a good angle on doing that job, learning from their experiences, and taking those opportunities to grow. This can only be done when you have a great team who love the work that they do for others.

So when I look at innovation and best practices in terms of how they coexist, I recognize that they can be one and the same.The most amazing tools and processes in the world won’t matter if we don’t have the true innovation factor, which are the people who tirelessly serve the public and look for ways to improve the communities they work, live, and play in. During my time here I’ve recognized and affirmed the importance of a motivated employee base, and it’s one of many lessons I’ve learned this summer.

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