Unlocking that revered Culture of Innovation at your Company

Culture of Innovation

For those looking to improve their culture and promote innovative thought and action, development and transition takes time and starts as the top.                   

Trae Tessmann|
March 31, 2017

Any innovation leader will tell you that regardless of industry, their company is capable of innovation and improvement, and they’re correct.

But even with a strong CIO or innovation leader, an organization must employ an equally strong supporting cast of employees and above-all, promote a culture that supports the initiatives, changes, and creative thought that drives a successful innovation program. Without that culture, a lack of transparency, knowledge-sharing, and opportunity prevents the workforce from fulfilling their full potential.

“Cultures are not built, they evolve as a matter of necessity.”

Rick Mueller – Admin, 7,000 Member Disruptive Innovation Group

A culture of innovation is only “built” during the founding stages of the organization. For those looking to improve their culture and promote innovative thought and action, development and transition takes time and starts as the top. McKinsey indicates that the two top motivators for innovative behavior are strong leaders who encourage it and leaders who actively manage and drive it. Employees recognize executives who “talk-the-talk” but are far more willing to follow those who continuously “walk-the-walk” alongside them in the pursuit of improvement.

While sometimes uncomfortable for top management (less so for CIOs and innovation leaders), publically promoting creative and observant thought on a consistent basis is the spark that many employees need. The myth of an “innovation-gap” between management and front-line employees is quickly dispelled when those employees feel empowered to actively seek new ways to improve operations, boost the bottom-line, or serve customers, and are encouraged to collaborate and speak up.

Engagement with Knowledge-sharing and Context

Still, if employees don’t know what problems the organization is looking to solve, they’re far less likely to contribute. Accordingly, only 17% of employees currently believe there is open communication throughout their organizations. Not only are goals and strategy not transparent, but communication in general is suffering.

“It starts with executive management development of a shared vision, high level innovation objectives, supporting a transparent IMS and regular communications.”

David Williams – Founder, Total Innovation Management Foundation

Aligning communications and the internal marketing of corporate goals and the previously outlined innovation program and process gives employees context into the opportunities the company is pursuing and the types of ideas they are in demand of. Without transparent objectives, continuous knowledge-sharing, and updates, employees will lack direction, “analysis paralysis” can overcome their thought process, and ideas or contributions will lack applicability.

Employees and ideas that fit corporate strategy must be allowed to take the next step. 91% of best-in-class companies actively reach out to their employees for ideas, but only 38% overall encourage them to act on them, pointing to a divergence of a culture that encourages innovative thought (talk-the-talk) but is still unable to empower employees to improve (walk-the-walk).

Building a Support System

Not every idea will be a game changer, but maintaining a culture of innovation doesn’t mean implementing every new idea that comes through. Active follow-ups, feedback, and a support system through something as simple as an email or an actionable IMS helps to boost morale for employees active in thought, and encourages others to do the same.

Promoting a culture of innovation doesn’t require a huge investment. Improvements can be immediately through transparency, knowledge-sharing, and opportunities to collaborate. Once employees know what’s going on and where they can help, you can leverage technology and innovation management tools like idea management software to properly collect, review, and implement new ideas, but before that, open up the improvement process. Share updates, set public goals, and promote creative thought to get everyone in the innovative mindset.

About Trae Tessmann

Co-founder of Ideawake

One thought on “Unlocking that revered Culture of Innovation at your Company

  • By Mila Bozic - Reply

    I would like to skim that White paper

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