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The Elements of Innovation

As higher education becomes more competitive both at the local and international level, industry leaders must embrace new ideas, approaches and perspectives to succeed. Innovation is a cultural imperative.

As I read the latest chapter of President to President, “Building an Innovation Culture in Higher Education,” by Dakota Wesleyan University President Amy Novak, Ed.D., I noticed many parallels between the successful innovation the author describes and Sodexo’s own approach.  

It starts with a commitment to find creative solutions to challenges and bring forth new ideas. And, it embraces five crucial elements:

chef creating foodAgility

The most successful innovators infuse their processes with agility. From planning to executing, they make sure teams can quickly respond to change. This is especially necessary in fields like higher education, where waves of students annually enter and leave campus.

Willingness to Fail

It may sound trite, but when teams know their leaders are willing to let them fail, they feel more empowered to take risks and put forth ideas that might become game-changers.

robot delivery vehiclesMeaningful Partnerships

From established names to ambitious startups, new ideas can come from anywhere, and seeking partnerships with a wide array of organizations promotes a culture of innovation. For example, Sodexo’s partnership with Starship Technologies to bring robotic delivery vehicles to campus is revolutionizing the dining experience.

Disrupt the Business Model

Innovation requires disrupting the traditional ways of doing things. That disruption can be bumpy, but it often leads to meaningful change and improved outcomes. One example is our work with Grubhub to integrate delivery into meal-plans, a pilot effort that could have long-term effects on the campus dining model.

Challenge the Status Quo

Innovation comes from those who value and prioritize it, so it’s vital to seek talent that believes in challenging the status quo. It’s also important to look for partners committed to understand and anticipate evolving needs.  

At Sodexo, our culture of innovation is constantly driving the creation of new programs, services and solutions. Our mission is to support our partners’ change, growth and success.

October 15, 2019

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