How To Develop An Innovation Culture?

Developing an innovation culture is critical if an organisation is to succeed in innovation over the long term.

A project team working together may develop some powerful insights and use them to generate great ideas for new products or new services. However, in order for that new product to be designed and developed to meet customer needs fully, and for the project to be implemented successfully, many other people in the organisation will have to be involved.

This broader team can only help the innovation succeed if they have a positive attitude towards innovation projects and can demonstrate behaviours that support innovation.

Quite simply, innovation is most likely to succeed if it is undertaken within the context of an innovative organisation.

Much research has been undertaken into what constitutes an innovation culture in an organisation. While the results vary somewhat between surveys, key themes repeatedly emerge.

The Eight Key Factors That Enable Creativity and Innovation In Organisations

  1. Management Commitment To Creativity And Innovation

    A commitment to creativity and innovation may be communicated in the vision or mission statement. However, the commitment to innovation must be demonstrated by all senior managers - in the way that they allocate resources, prioritise innovation projects and how they talk to and talk about those who are engaged in innovative projects.

  2. A Company Structure For Creativity And Innovation

    Rigid and hierarchical structures have prevented some organisations from increasing their capability to innovate.

    The desired structure for innovation is sometimes described as a complex adaptive system (CAS). This is a type of ‘living system’ that mimics systems that are found in nature, such as the immune system. Importantly there is no central control, and feedback is non-linear.

    In traditional structures employees are often encouraged to follow methods that have worked in the past. In a CAS, because it is flexible and evolving, the members have the freedom to be creative and try new approaches and build their collective intelligence. This creates a virtuous circle as the members of the organisation increase their capability to deal with future changes in the environment. In effect, to become more innovative.

  3. Flexible Planning Process That Supports Creativity And Innovation

    A flexible planning process will is one where there is time within the planning timetable to explore creative ideas and go through an iterative process to develop them into innovative solutions to customer or business problems.

    Senior managers may want to consider involving employees at many levels of the organisation in the planning process. It may also be helpful to include people who have recently joined the company because such people can bring a fresh perspective.

    Including techniques such as scenario planning in the planning process provides a robust structure within which teams can plan creatively.

  4. A Climate For Creativity And Risk-taking

    In order to encourage those within an organisation to be creative, the climate of the organisation has to be supportive of risk-taking. Furthermore it is the climate and culture of an organisation that determines how large a particular risk is perceived to be.

    If the organisation responds harshly to a small failure, and a creative success offers small or no reward, then the need to avoid failure will become a higher priority to an individual than taking a risk. In such a climate, creative solutions will not be explored.

    In order to develop an environment that supports creativity, there is a need to manage the risks associated with it. The starting point for approaches to risk management in innovation is similar to approaches that can be applied to any other risk:-

    1. Spread the risk.

      This would include developing a portfolio of ideas and innovations – not just one.
    2. Agree the amount of risk.

      Employees need to know how much risk it is acceptable to take in their particular department with regard to innovation.

    One of the key aspects of a culture of innovation is to create a supportive environment. If employees are expected to be more creative, to push back the boundaries and experience some ‘chaos’, then there is a need to ensure that there is psychological safety for them.

    Empowering employees has also been shown to encourage creativity. This involves giving employees high levels of discretion to design their work and search for answers to their business problems.

  5. Communication Procedures That Support Creativity And Innovation

    Sharing the knowledge that is held within an organisation can increase the opportunity for increased numbers of employees to use it.

    It is knowledge in conjunction with creativity skills, powered by intrinsic motivation that produces a creative output.

    Another way that communication builds a culture of innovation is through the sharing of innovation success stories and the shared learning from innovation failure stories.

  6. Motivational Stimuli For Creativity and Innovation

    There are two types of motivation extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation includes things like pay and benefits as ways to motivate staff. Intrinsic motivation is about internal motivation. Intrinsic motivation is key to creativity and innovation.

    Research has shown that successful artistic and innovation projects are often undertaken by people with little thought of the potential financial rewards. These people just feel passionate about what they are doing and want to see it through. An example of this is Trevor Bayliss and his passion to develop clockwork products for Africa.

    Renowned academic Amabile believes that developing intrinsic motivation should be the first target for an organisation that wants to increase its creativity. The reason for this is that her research has shown that even subtle changes in an organisation’s environment can increase intrinsic motivation.

    This does not mean that employees should not be rewarded!

    It just means that when you are selecting innovation projects, you should consider the level of ‘employee excitement and interest’ around each innovation initiative alongside all the other criteria for project selection.

  7. Idea Capture and Evaluation Procedures.

    Having encouraged staff to come up with ideas for improvements it is critical to ensure that they are captured and evaluated. Otherwise the stream of creative ideas will soon dry up.

    A good evaluation process will increase the chance of selecting ideas that will succeed. Such a process will also help to ensure that clear feedback is given to those who have generated ideas as to why an idea cannot be developed.

  8. Remove Barriers To Innovation

    This is often not a one-off task but a continuous process. The barriers may be diverse, and will depend on many factors relating to the organisation; the size, history, culture and others.

Innovation Culture: Business Benefits

Developing a culture of innovation can help your organisation to:-

  • create value through successful innovations.
  • create significant sustainable competitive advantage.
  • ensure that your organisation is a “learning organisation”.

Why Choose Anatellô To Help You Develop A Culture Of Innovation?

Anatellô can help you with all aspects of developing a culture of innovation.

We can:-

  • undertake a diagnostic assessment and benchmarking exercise to understand how innovative your organisation is currently, this will help you prioritise the starting points for developing an innovation culture in your organisation, and it can also inform your innovation strategy.
  • help you develop an innovation strategy, which will help you identify an effective approach to developing an innovation culture.
  • train your leaders in leading Innovation skills, which will give them the skills and confidence to bring about culture change in your organisation.
  • train your team in creative thinking skills and facilitation skills, which will help build innovation capability throughout your organisation.
  • design a programme of change activities, which will ensure that your innovation strategy is implemented within a sensible time frame and implemented effectively.