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Building an Innovation Narrative

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Innovation is critical to preparing water and wastewater utilities to meet today's and tomorrow's challenges. Climate change, emerging contaminants, funding, and shifting workforce dynamics are all challenges that utilities need new ideas to address.


Additionally, utilities around the world are increasingly being asked to do more with less, and many have implemented innovation programs to create and use new ideas to improve their processes. However, they may have trouble showing how much these ideas help, as demonstrated by a global survey (WRF 4907), which found that only 35% of utility staff think they accurately measure the impact of their innovation.
To show the impact of their innovation programs, some utility leaders use metrics to prove that their programs are working. They may count things like the number of new ideas and the amount of time it takes to make them happen. Some programs also try to measure the effect of the new ideas, such as how they have improved employee experience, or how they make customers feel. But these metrics can be hard to measure and may not capture the full impact of the innovation.

This project, commonly called "Building an Innovation Narrative," was supported by 36 water and wastewater utilities from around the world. This project aimed to help utilities showcase the value of innovation and improve their performance through effective storytelling and meaningful performance measures. The research involved four main tasks, including gathering stakeholder input through surveys and workshops, outlining guidelines for performance measurement and management, showcasing utility case stories, and developing comprehensive guidance for defining program narratives and performance measurement plans. The project built on previous research from the Utility Innovation Network and expanded its focus to include utility communications leaders as critical players in influencing organizational culture and innovation.

The key findings emphasized the importance of integrating powerful storytelling tactics with performance measures to effectively communicate the impact of utility innovation, ultimately creating programs supported by staff and aligned with leadership expectations. The guidance materials developed through this project are expected to support innovation leaders in effectively communicating program impact, driving engagement and resources for innovation, and fostering a more agile and innovative culture within the wider water industry.

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Full Project Profile

Basic Information

Project Number: TWTI-21-01
Project Title: Leveraging Utility Innovation Performance Measures for Program Management and Organizational Transformation

View the detailed list of Principal Investigator(s) and Affiliations, Participating Utilities, and Funding Agencies Here

Project Objectives
Project Background/Rationale
Research Approach
Key Findings & Conclusions
Future Recommendations
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