Innovation Finalist Interview with Wendy Lemieux, Communications and Marketing, Fairfax County Office of Public Private Partnerships
Fairfax County Partnerships, Northern Virginia Community College’s SySTEMic Solutions, and Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services applied as a partnership in the Public Sector Innovator of the Year category for the Greater Washington Innovation Awards™
1. What makes a company innovative?
Economist and Harvard professor Theodore Levitt once said “creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.” Companies and public institutions who use their creativity to change the rules of the game are those who are most innovative and, ultimately, most successful.
It’s not enough to keep the status quo – to be competitive successful organizations rewrite the rules to ultimately win business. Whether it’s something totally new, reimagining an existing product (remember when baby aspirin was just for children – now it’s a multi-million dollar industry that cures everything from heart attacks to strokes) or combining forces to create synergy, to be an innovator a company has to be nimble, creative and results oriented. This applies to government groups as well as they must adopt and adapt new technologies and business processes to serve their constituents and create the government of the future.
2. What makes your company innovative?
Synergy! By combining forces each of our three partners brought their strength to the table and created a “whole” that was bigger than its parts. Singularly, each partner had creativity and thought. The innovation was exponential opportunity that was created by combining forces. The partnership of NVCC SySTEMic Solutions, and Fairfax County introduces more students to the benefits and opportunities associated with STEM, which in turn will create more students studying for science, technology, engineering and math careers, which then translates to more qualified applicants fill the growing STEM workforce that is central to the U.S., and especially Fairfax County’s economic vitality.
3. What are some publications, print or digital, you read daily or have read that help you stay on top of your game? These could be books, magazine, blogs, e-newsletters, etc.
Creating a robust RSS feed that alerts you to articles of inspiration is a great tool. Google Alerts is great for this as is signing up for Fairfax County’s Newswire (http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news/subscribe/). Another great tool is Flipboard where you can customize your news into an easy to read magazine format. And of course the Washington Post’s Capital Business section and the Washington Business Journal are great ways to get local and global information!
4. What advice would you give to up-and-coming leaders striving to be innovative in today’s business environment?
Collaborate as much as possible. Whether it’s organizing creative teams within your organization, like LMI’s “Let’s Make an Impact Weekend” or working with like-minded groups, the benefits that can be achieved by partnering can be exponentially increased by working together.