Is your company culture innovative and contagious? If it isn’t, it should be.

Innovative companies are never satisfied with introducing one product or service and resting on their laurels. It’s the C-suite’s job to create a culture that’s always curious and looking at trends for the next big thing. Sitting still is not an option.

A contagious corporate culture is hugely important to the success of a company, but it’s not easy. A small group of innovators will just spin its wheels without buy-in from the entire company.

Constant change makes people uncomfortable. Many times it’s the senior staff that’s grown up in the old way of doing business. They were successful and promoted for their old ways and now they’re being asked to join an unpredictable fast track. Changing the mindset of a corporate culture means either waiting for these people to leave or firing them, or rolling up your sleeves and instilling change from the top.

Startups have this down pat. They hire people with the startup mentality of working hard and innovating every day. Older companies must come to new terms: the world is changing and there are new operating rules. Become a startup again.

Part of the difficulty in changing corporate culture is the message. Power Point presentations  and quarterly reports don’t motivate employees to innovate. Apple is a master motivator in communicating its vision and it’s clearly not about the shareholders. Steve Jobs’ vision to “make a dent in the universe” inspires people and they buy into Apple’s cool image.

Bausch + Lomb executive knew market share or the bottom line wouldn’t motivate his employees to innovate. So he appealed to their sense of community. B&L roots in the Rochester, N.Y., community date back to 1853, so many generations of families have worked at the company. At a Rochester anniversary celebration, he told employees that they couldn’t let the company or their community down because B&L should be there for their children’s children. He found a way to motivate them by appealing to their sensibilities and community pride. That’s powerful stuff.

It’s the culture that will drive how successful many organizations are going to be in the future. Does yours need an overhaul?

Let me know your thoughts, you can also connect with me and other executives through the  Insigniam Executive Forum on LinkedIn.

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