How can leaders encourage innovation when a company is culturally resistant to change? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Mark Gould, COO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, on Quora:

I think that innovation is vital to remain relevant, either as a person or a company, and this has been a major focus for me in my own company. A few things I've learned in the process:

1. Innovation can be an intimidating word, because it sounds like something "huge". I encourage people to think about innovation both large and small; the short-hand we've used is innovation with a capital I or a little 'i'.

2. With that in mind, it's useful to think big, but to start small. I encourage people to think about the smallest first step that they might be able to take to test out a new idea. By limiting the potential loss if something doesn't work out, we reduce the risk, and the possible career and corporate downside.

3. I try to keep in mind that the culture of any organization isn't permanent; it can be changed if everyone starts to shift their thinking. My own organization tends to be a bit risk averse, but we're working to change that by creating a culture that's open to new ideas.

4. When people express concerns or frustrations with our culture, I usually ask them what one thing they are doing to try to change it. The simple fact is that our culture will never change if everyone is waiting for everyone else to change first.

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