How to Build a Culture of Innovation

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To compete in today’s fast-changing world, leaders seek innovations. To launch a successful strategy for innovative processes or products, whether incrementally better or completely transformative, the key to achievement is developing a sustainable culture of innovation.  As Suzan Briganti notes in “How to Drive a Culture of Innovation”, such a culture “encourages and rewards innovation values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.” And the payoff is substantial: innovation can drive growth; the innovation culture makes it easier to attract and keep talent; and increase profitability can raise the valuation of a company.

She notes these steps that a company must take.

  1. The leader must model, support and reward eight innovation behaviors:
  • Drive: Ambition, initiative, intensity and persistence
  • Disruption: Boundary-breaking, thriving in uncertainty, self-confidence.
  • Creation: Seeking novelty through problem solving, uncommon connections and a growth mindset
  • Connection: Relating, persuading, team-building and social intelligence
  • Control: 360 degree involvement, competitiveness and fiscal responsibility
  • Thinking: Seeking and processing information through rapid pattern recognition and reflection
  • Delivering: The product/process needs to have necessary resources and be adaptable
  • Giving: The innovation must benefit others and make the world/situation a better place.
  • The leader should reflect on the current culture, identify what’s holding people back, set goals for desirable values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors, and set a path for change: to get “from here to there”
  • Each employee needs to take ownership of the changes she/he must make and monitor the KPIs that will enable her/his achievement, personally and as part of teams
  • The leader must protect the innovators: redirecting resisters and blockers
  • One success is achieved, it should be celebrated to reinforce that the processes are institutionalized
  • And the culture must constantly be monitored and nurtured to make it sustainable.

So, when you’ve decided that you want your company to be more innovative, remember that as important as the product, service or process is that you want to create you also have to commit leaders and employees to a “culture of innovation”. It’s the lack of that latter commitment that often derails innovation efforts.   Hae you tried to launch an innovation strategy with or without such a supportive culture? If so, share your experiences and insights. Let’s help everyone succeed!