Innovation culture is a subject that is often discussed by companies and entrepreneurs.
Knowing how vital it is in reinforcing creativity and innovation performance, businesses have constantly tried to apply this concept in their day-to-day activities.
However, how do you build a culture of innovation the right way?
In this article, you will learn more about what innovation culture is and how business leaders can effectively create this within the workplace.
Let’s get started.
What is an innovation culture?
Defining innovation involves acknowledging how organizational culture plays a huge factor in establishing certain behaviors and attitudes within an organization. It consists of repeatedly performed activities that represent what values the company instills in its employees.
In other words, innovation culture is made up of practices that support and strengthen innovation as a significant aspect of progress and growth.
It includes all structures, habits, processes, instructions, pursuits, and incentives that institutions implement to make innovation happen. It values, drives, and supports innovation as a prime initiative for success.
Why is it important to cultivate a culture of innovation?
It is imperative for companies to establish an innovation culture in the workplace because it:
Helps businesses to survive
It involves generating viable ideas and going beyond the traditional ways of doing things. It modifies business models and matches them with the evolving needs of the market, resulting in better products and services.
Organizations that support innovative thinking are most likely to develop unique and workable concepts that can solve existing problems and penetrate relevant markets. Hence, as innovation is valued and prioritized, competitive advantage is formed — leading to incessant survival.
Empowers employees to work and think innovatively
Most of the biggest game-changers in history have innovation cultures that do not only emphasize the importance of innovation but also that of their workforce. They bank on their employees’ abilities and constantly remind them how valuable their insights are for success.
According to research, happy employees tend to be more productive. Such a positive effect leads to other benefits such as improvement of work habits, increased employee engagement, and higher regard towards helping the company flourish.
Leads to impactful strategies and innovative solutions
As innovation culture focuses on results, institutions are reinforced to clearly define their goals and desired outcomes. Thus, standards are made and strategies are formulated to achieve the company’s objectives.
Furthermore, with a strong innovation culture, innovation teams can challenge the status quo and identify creative ways to increase profits, drive necessary changes, and improve the general health of the business.
Encourages diversity within the organization
Diversity brings different backgrounds, knowledge, voices, and expertise together. Putting them in one table means producing distinct products and services, examining issues from various perspectives, and abstaining from certain biases that may inhibit growth.
With an innovation culture in place, entrepreneurs will not only obtain a fresh melting pot of ideas. They will also get better at problem-solving and decision-making, resulting in robust discussions, choices, projects, and other innovation-related activities.
Causes organizational and business growth
Innovation is defined as the process of realizing new products, processes, propositions, or business models to create added value for customers and the organization. Embedding this as an attitude rather than seeing it as a task drives growth in all aspects of the business.
As you listen to the inputs of your employees, stakeholders, and other appropriate parties, act on your plans, goals, and innovation strategies to improve the overall health of the company. Incorporating the right balance for both over time can bring immense generational growth.
What is “innovation parenting”?
Building an innovation culture is like growing and polishing your children’s abilities to equip them with the know-how of performing the company’s innovation activities.
Innovation leaders need to enhance the creativity and problem-solving skills of every employee by exposing them to different tasks and responsibilities that involve the goals, objectives, main focus areas, primary capabilities, and commitments of the business.
Provided that you are in charge, you will train your employees to prepare them for the responsibility of handling teams and projects of their own. You intend to help them understand what it means to fulfill their duties within given standards such as budget and deadlines.
Over time, you entrust them with more comprehensive tasks — like devising products and services or implementing processes that the organization needs to improve.
At this point, you have decided to give them the experiences they need to determine how they can supervise everything you used to teach them about.
Meaning, forging an innovation culture may mean spending a lot of money, time, and effort in making sure that your employees obtain the skills and the mindset required to perform and sustain what is essential for every organization to succeed.
You have also instilled in them the ability to discover opportunities and connect with those who are in the same industry or market as yours.
You have lent them a helping hand in identifying what they can possibly contribute to the organization’s pool of knowledge along with other employees that come with different backgrounds and expertise.
What does innovation culture look like?
Below are the three significant traits of innovation culture:
Innovation culture focuses on setting goals and achieving them
Because the customers’ needs are evolving, businesses must catch up by implementing necessary improvements (even at a gradual pace). With an innovation culture, companies focus on the outcome, despite applying small steps in the present to reduce innovation risks.
When business leaders communicate goals with trust, employees feel driven with purpose.
They make work-related decisions that perfectly match the organization’s objectives. They feel engaged, and they take ownership of different ideas and activities that would benefit the company.
As a result, the entire team’s perspective is fixed. They know where they’re going innovation-wise, and they know what they need to do to get there.
Hence, they devote their time and their resources to executing projects that effectively correspond to their desired position in the market.
Innovation culture encourages learning
Companies that support innovation are invested in keeping their employees up-to-date with trends and relevant skills. They understand how powerful a workforce can be when armed with sufficient knowledge, particularly in people management and complex problem-solving.
Innovation culture encourages learning by providing various learning channels that employees can use to continually improve and refine their skills. This way, they get to develop all the attitudes and techniques required to improve or maintain the company’s position in the market.
These learning opportunities also allow them to discover their strengths and weaknesses more, along with other opportunities that they can seize to showcase their capabilities as future leaders with insightful inputs for the business.
Innovation culture understands the value of risks and failures
If you maintain a workplace that fosters innovation, you would understand that failure can also be an essential component of success.
In a nutshell, it gives you the ability to identify what circumstances to avoid. It also helps you narrow down all your possible approaches to the one that’s probably the most effective and less risky for mass production.
Innovation culture does not like failure, but it acknowledges how failure can help the organization in numerous ways. It also sees failure as a part of innovation, and it places high regard on evaluating risk levels for discovery, successful implementation, and feedback.
It celebrates success, but it deals with and learns from risks and failures.
How to build an innovation culture
Here are the top ten methods that you can apply in building a culture of innovation within your organization:
1. Determine your goals
Before you can encourage your employees to work together on a certain project, your goals and target results must be clear and precise. Get them to align their thoughts and strategies on a single objective. Watch different ideas collide and listen to different perspectives.
2. Encourage people to think outside the box
Show your team that you value unconventional thinking. Remind them during your brainstorming sessions that there are no bad ideas, that relevant discussions may arise from their suggestions, and that suggestions for improvement are always welcome.
3. Be genuinely interested in their opinions
Motivate your team members to share their thoughts on various issues that your company is facing. Promote idea sharing, thorough discussion, and collaboration in devising solutions that you can use to respond to these challenges.
4. Conduct innovation workshops
Raise awareness about the importance of innovation in a company. Promote the involvement of your employees by conducting innovation workshops across all hierarchy levels. Explain to them what their roles are and make them understand how significant their contributions can be.
5. Create idea challenges
Encourage everyone to share their ideas by creating fun idea challenges. Form a committee of experts to evaluate the feasibility of every presented concept. You can also apply gamification features to make this competition more exciting for all the participants.
6. Don’t forget about the rewards
Building an innovation culture includes rewarding and recognizing innovative behavior. Offer raises and promotions to employees who consistently provide creative and feasible concepts. Celebrate innovation efforts and commend innovation teams for a job well done.
7. Provide constructive feedback
Don’t be so quick in turning down ideas. Discuss them with the rest of the team and find out if you can improve them. If not, provide constructive feedback and acknowledge the effort (and the courage) exhibited to present it.
8. Train your team to think like entrepreneurs
When you encourage your employees to think like they own the business, great things can happen — and one of them is when they get to develop a mindset that supports continuous innovation and business development.
9. Avoid unnecessary bureaucracy
Bureaucracy leads to lag times and organizational churn that decelerates innovation. It places roadblocks on innovators and causes unwarranted frustration. Abstain from any form of bureaucracy and support rapid experimentation all the time.
10. Discourage silos
Innovation needs a group of diverse people who can provide new and unique perspectives on existing challenges. Encourage people across functional teams to work together within a given period.
The importance of innovation culture
Innovation culture is made up of practices that support and strengthen innovation as a significant aspect of progress and growth. It includes all structures, habits, processes, instructions, pursuits, and incentives that institutions implement to make innovation happen.
It values, drives, and supports innovative thinking in order for it to be successful on an organizational level. To fully understand the importance of your company’s innovation culture you need to know how this impacts what employees do or say at work every day.
This will help establish specific behaviors within the organization such as communication patterns between departments during meetings or who gets credit for new ideas when they come about.
If you need more help in creating an innovation culture, feel free to learn more about the innovation consultancy services we offer, including innovation training and strategy.