Innovation Management Blog

Five tips to help you create a culture of innovation

Culture Of Innovation

This was a really interesting post to think about, but not the easiest to write. The reason, you simply can't switch on a culture of innovation. There's also no silver bullet. Trying to force it will likely mean your innovation efforts end in failure and making no effort means you'll end up like Kodak or Blockbuster.

The conclusion I came to after writing this post three times was that if you want to create a culture of innovation, you have to take it slowly and immerse yourself in innovation management. It can't be seen as a project and at the beginning, you should probably identify innovation initiatives you can turn into innovation success stories.

And when I say take it slowly, I should point out that that doesn't mean it isn't a priority. It's that it is extremely hard to predict how quickly any organisation will respond and in what manner. Be aware that it wont happen instantly, but be prepared for when you start to see increased engagement and more people emailing you asking for help.

It's better to set manageable expectations to begin with, be transparent and know when you can scale or expand your innovation program. In short, be responsive or as John Maeda would say, live in beta.

So here are those tips

1. C-level support

I've written about this before and while a culture of innovation will be confirmed by your employees and your actions, it has to begin at the very top of your organisation. If top management do not embrace innovation, you can hardly expect your employees to.

You might also want to consider an innovation council made up with members from top management.

2. Be open and transparent

You have to show your employees you are serious and to do this, you have to be completely transparent about your innovation ambitions and activities. You should create an innovation manifesto or charter and make it available to the entire organisation. This should also be a living document that grows and expands with your program.

Doing this will create trust and if your employees trust the innovation initiative they will be more willing to share and participate.

3. Promote creativity and be prepared to be wrong

Your employees need to know they can share their out of the box ideas in an easy and open way. They also need to know that their idea will be taken seriously and that there is a real chance it may be used or developed further. They must know this because if they believe the idea is going nowhere, they wont share it in the first place.

Creativity fuels disruptive and transformational innovation. And as Sir Ken Robinson says in the video below, if you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll not come up with anything original.

You have to allow creativity to play a role in your organisation in a structured and unstructured way.

4. Recognise and reward success

The single most important element in creating an innovation culture will be your people and you have to be able to recognise and reward those that come up with the best or most creative ideas or those that put themselves forward when you ask for help or volunteers.

Understand their skills and expertise, let them be part of a select group of users that champion the program or promote innovation challenges. Make them members of the innovation council and they'll help you identify future challenges as well as innovative opportunities.

5. Create a home for innovation

This is the final point, but just as valid as the four that came before it. And what we mean by this is that you have to have a homepage where people can share their ideas or ask for help, either on your intranet or better still with an innovation management tool.

Summary

If innovation is important to your organisation, having a culture of innovation is a crucial element. But it wont happen overnight, you need the right people involved and you can't force it.

These five tips are also only the beginning, we could have made it 10 or 15. But these are important and will get you started.

Video of the day

Links

Wired - Creating a Culture of Innovation

TechTarget - Innovation Culture

Co.Design - 6 Ways To Create A Culture Of Innovation

Creativity fuels innovation

Header photo credit: Danielle MacInnes

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