Culture is Key to Innovation

I thought this Booz & Company article, The Global Innovation 1000: Why Culture is Key, was an excellent follow-up to Patty’s recent article on Innovative Workplaces.

The elements that make up a truly innovative company are many: a focused innovation strategy, a winning overall business strategy, deep customer insight, great talent, and the right set of capabilities to achieve successful execution. More important than any of the individual elements, however, is the role played by corporate culture — the organization’s self-sustaining patterns of behaving, feeling, thinking, and believing — in tying them all together. Yet according to the results of this year’s Global Innovation 1000 study, only about half of all companies say their corporate culture robustly supports their innovation strategy. Moreover, about the same proportion say their innovation strategy is inadequately aligned with their overall corporate strategy.

Whenever a corporation decides that it is time to change, after defining what a successful change will look like, it is vitally important to assess to what extent the employees believe that the organization will support them creating new ways of achieving the company’s goals. If the culture has not valued nor rewarded innovation and risk-taking in the past, then the communication plan must address the following shifts (in addition to the change itself):

  1. How management will value and reward employees’ creativity, going forward
  2. The amount of time that will be set aside for “play”
  3. To whom new ideas can be communicated
  4. The process to vet new ideas
  5. Training in collaboration. This may also include retraining of middle management to think in terms of “yes, and” as opposed to “no, but”.

About Michelle Smeby

Michelle Smeby is CEO of wHolistic Change, Inc. with more than 10 years of experience implementing enterprise solutions at Fortune 100 companies. Michelle specializes in helping corporations deliver transformational change.

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