One of the buzzwords that keep coming back in my discussions with clients and colleagues is innovation. Every organisation wants to be innovative. But what is it we’re talking about, and how do you embed a culture of innovation in your business?
Most executives agree that innovation is critical for their business and their growth strategy. However, research by the Centre for Creative Leadership shows that although 94% of the 500 executives surveyed said that innovation is very important for their organisation, only 14% said that their organisation was effective at it. Another piece of research by McKinsey show that having the right culture to foster and support innovation is mentioned by 57% of respondents as the number one factor stopping innovation.
At the core of culture are patterns of behaviour, which can be observed across the organisation. Those patterns do not exist in a vacuum. They are underpinned by values and beliefs. Therefore, to shift the culture, not only do you need to identify the required behaviours for success, but also identify the beliefs that need to drive them. If the current belief system is not aligned with what you need, work must be done to focus on shifting beliefs. The iceberg model, familiar to many of you, I am sure, illustrates my point.
So, what is the iceberg of a culture of innovation? Here are some of the elements that should be present:
The key mindset that needs to exist in the organisation for a culture of innovation is curiosity. When I first meet leaders, I pay attention to whether they are asking questions or not. If they do, innovation can exist. If they don’t, it is unlikely to exist unless some deep change takes place. The other piece often missing for innovation is the fact that not knowing something is often seen as a weakness, not a strength. This can happen in many organisations, and it kills innovation before it has time to even get started.
If you think innovation is right for your business and want to develop the appropriate culture, ask yourself the following questions:
By following a small number of clear steps, you can start shifting towards the culture you want. Be very clear about the business impact you are looking for, and communicate this to everyone. Work on existing beliefs and reinforce the right behaviours. And don’t forget to ask questions!
What levers have you used to foster a culture of innovation in your organisation? I’d love to hear from you.
For further insights view our selection of case studies, ebooks, reports and white papers or contact us to learn how we can transform your culture.
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