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Innovation Framework

A way to advance ideas that make an impact

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This innovation framework provides a way for organizations to identify and advance ideas with the most potential to make an impact. It was developed with particular attention to the University of Minnesota community and with value on transparency and inclusiveness. The framework invites partnership, supports learning and strategic risk-taking, expects ideas to be organic and evolving, and requires intentional evaluation and decision making so that innovative ideas lead to powerful and effective change.

Learn more about the innovation framework:


Getting started

Does your organization want to cast a wide net for innovative ideas, but aren't sure how to make this happen in an effective manner? The innovation framework can help. It doesn't have all the answers, but it's a great tool for getting the conversation started.

Consider these starting points:

  1. Have some conversations. Bring the framework diagram and the accompanying narrative explanation to a colleague. Start with just a few people in your organization to get some initial reactions.
    • How do ideas get generated, evaluated, and implemented in our organization now?
    • What are some of the strengths and some of the challenges in our current system?
    • What do we see in this model that could help with that?
    • Where does it make sense to bring this model next?
  2. Share with colleagues. Find out what other people are doing with this framework and share what you are considering. The end result will be different for each unit, but by sharing what we each try and learning from it, we’ll all end up with better innovation processes.
  3. Apply the framework. Identify who can help make this framework most relevant for your organization. Consider all the stakeholders that you work with -- be inclusive! Gather them together to talk about how each of the four steps might work within your organization/unit's culture, structure, and systems, and how the unit will make decisions in between the steps. This conversation will probably need to take place over time with multiple people, and the solutions will likely involve several iterations. Ground yourself in the four key principles of the model: learning, sharing, supporting, and celebrating.


A group of participants in the President’s Emerging Leaders program at the University of Minnesota in 2011-12, partnered with the Office for Equity and Diversity to conceptualize a framework through which the University’s best ideas about advancing equity and diversity could be gathered and evaluated for alignment with strategic goals and viability, improved through experimentation and collaborations, and implemented with sufficient resources.

Activities included:

  • research on innovation processes in and outside of the University
  • consideration of University culture and strengths
  • development of a framework.

The final product is a conversation tool that is general enough to apply to units beyond the University's Office for Equity and Diversity. The framework is an entry point for an organization to consider how to implement an innovation process. Organizations identify for themselves what each of the four phases in the process will look like specifically, and what criteria for decision making will get them to their goals.

This innovation framework was developed in collaboration with the University of Minnesota Office for Equity and Diversity by Jennifer Bentrim, Rod DeVriendt, Susan Geller, Jean McElvain, Rebecca Noran, and Eric Schnell in spring 2012.

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