Building a Culture of Innovation.In the modern competitive landscape, businesses know that for them to succeed, one of the necessary things they need to maintain is their culture of innovation. They have to develop a fresh look on their industry, as newer, younger competitions flood the market.
Disrupt, or be DisruptedIn my experience, culture is only second to context in the importance of creating an innovative company. Even before a company see the output of innovation, they must first develop the necessary foundations for innovation to grow in. Like plowing and fertilizing the soil before planting a crop, the effort a company puts into the preparation has a direct effect on the yield of the innovation seeds they plant. Here are some strategies successful businesses use to build a culture of innovation:
- Know yourself. There isn’t one encompassing method that companies can use as a strategy to build a culture of innovation. The first thing you need to do is know who you are and what you need. By doing this, you can tailor fit your methods as to what your business needs. For example, Four Seasons hotels realized that the core of its culture was service. This means that for them to continue innovating, they have to listen to ideas of employees who actually deal with their guests as they are the ones who would know what their customers would need the most. A key setback to innovation is when decision makers aren't aware of the truth behind problem areas, or work arounds.
- Innovation should be part of daily life. Innovation shouldn’t just be about one project to take your business off the ground. It should be ingrained with every aspect of your company. From research and development to human resources, innovation should be every one’s job. Through creative inspiration, an entire workforce can be trained to observe their surrounding environment in fresh ways.
- Give employees the tools they need to innovate. Having an innovative idea isn’t enough. Employees should know what to do with these ideas and how to present them. Giving your people tools on how to nurture and use ideas, and even as basic as creating a safe space to experiment are things a lot of companies neglect to do, is what you shouldn’t be forgetting. It's healthy to worry that an employee might leave to start their own business.
- Make trust and reliance laws of innovation culture. Trust is the first law of the innovation culture. Your business should let trust grow between each other to ensure that change can be implemented without losing your people. As Bryan Coffman, principal of InnovationLabs put it, “[t]rust in the innovation culture doesn’t mean a guarantee of success or a guarantee of freedom from pain and suffering. It does mean that whatever happens, we are committed to facing it together and supporting one another through the process, often at the cost of some personal sacrifice. That’s the nature of the contract in trust.”
- Innovation is a human condition. Innovation isn’t just a quality that some people possess, it is a way of thinking and behaving that comes naturally. Your company’s job is to make sure you have the environment that could unleash the creative ideas out of your people. People must be free to explore curiosity, and not be punished for failure.