How do we create and maintain corporate innovation? How do some companies innovate? We’ve seen many companies respond to our current global crisis with innovations that transform their product or service into indispensable supplies, from luxury brands fabricating masks to breweries producing hand sanitizer.

Innovation is defined as: [making] changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.

While the innovation imperative typically sits in the realm of a corporate’s strategic frame, many overlook the fact that true innovation is a byproduct of an organization’s culture. Creating a culture of innovation is imperative to maintain corporate innovation initiatives. Cultural transformation begins by revealing the existing culture, unhooking from that culture, inventing a new innovative culture then implementing it to maintain over time. Once implemented, we can begin to see the differentiators that separate the great innovators from normal industry.

With more and more companies trying to compete with large organizations as well as disruptive start-ups, creating a culture where the discipline of innovation is repeatable is critical. We have discovered that the differentiators are not always about technology or creativity but something else.

Firstly, the organization must acknowledge the ongoing need for innovation. Many executive teams and leaders will announce the corporate vision and philosophy of innovation and market disruption but their actual business model (and culture) may not reflect this idea or announcement. We must study and compare the resource investments on regular everyday business operations vs. those on innovation projects. Look at the performance levels. If a significant portion of the business plan is not attributed to disruptive initiatives and actions through the existing model, it is likely that the team (workforce culture) is acting with a low-risk strategy given by the existing culture.

Next, we will step back and evaluate innovation performance through a cultural survey. We can then see that the organizational culture defines the ability of the workforce to engage or not in initiatives that lead to corporate innovation. The transformation of this culture begins with the leaders and the C-suite team creating and embracing positivity towards the innovation by acknowledging new ideas created by the team, even if those ideas don’t pan out. This creates a culture where it is safe to take risks and individuals and teams are encouraged to think newly. This new culture of innovation will allow employees and teams to challenge the norm and will yield innovative ideas. Innovation is present.

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