As innovations of famous brands dominate the market, the mystery of innovation cultures that foster their fame has, without a doubt, become one of the most exciting topics for businesses worldwide.
Many of these top-tier companies had been leading the industry ever since they brought their products and services to life, so it’s no surprise that other organizations want to take inspiration from these innovation leaders in the hopes of making it big one day.
How do these businesses come up with state-of-the-art products in the first place? How do they create unique branding concepts that seem to do some serious creative magic?
In this article, we will go through ten of the world’s most successful companies in terms of innovation. We will take a look at their innovation culture and learn what it takes to improve innovation performance.
Let’s get started.
What is innovation culture?
Innovation culture refers to the work atmosphere that teams instill to foster innovation, productivity, and creative thinking among their employees.
It strives to come up with a way of working that provides results, such as responding to the customers’ needs better and competing effectively in general.
Simply put, an innovation culture pushes companies to be better in all aspects of the business.
Why is innovation culture important?
Innovation culture sparks creativity by applying a structure of practices and strategies that integrate innovation principles within an organization. It leaves out traditional methods and focuses on sharpening minds towards discoveries.
It promotes innovative thinking to obtain the best ideas in developing new products, solutions, concepts, and processes that will bring the company to greater heights.
Innovation culture seeks to establish creativity and intensify thought processes as a natural part of its day-to-day cycle.
It pushes organizations to achieve success by inaugurating work practices that make employees cooperative in making things better — creating an organizational culture that can make innovation a continuous process.
By the way, we recently published a book that would guide leaders on how to organize innovation in their own organization. In case you’re interested, you can always grab a free copy from our website.
Examples of Great Companies With an Innovation Culture
Let’s take a look at some of the world’s most innovative cultures and see what we can apply from their day-to-day behavior.
Tesla is a company that opens up new innovative horizons even up to this day. It emphasizes competence as a signature trait of every Tesla employee.
Its powerful and innovation-centered culture banks on its employees’ capabilities to quickly respond to the trends and changes in the market.
It empowers its workforce to constantly seek out supreme ideas that would allow them to maintain their rightful place in the creative technological innovation era.
In Tesla, people are constantly trained to push beyond the limits of productivity and creativity. It rewards constant innovation and continuously motivates every employee to take responsibility and accountability for their jobs, as well as that of the company’s overall performance.
In fact, everyone is strongly encouraged to think like they own the company so they can solidly establish a mindset that supports continuous innovation and business development.
Unfortunately, this kind of culture places pressure and strain on its employees.
However, despite being disliked by a lot of people for its ‘demanding’ culture, Tesla takes pride in being at the forefront of its chosen industry by their efforts as a team.
In business, companies and employees create value for each other. Businesses hire people for their talents and services, while employees use all of their efforts and knowledge on the things that they can contribute to the company’s revenue-generation processes.
No entity gets anything without getting any work done, and Tesla has certainly not kept its rightful spot for so long if employees never performed their tasks to the core. Likewise, people would not have exerted so much effort if they never felt valued by the business.
This means that innovation culture involves a give-and-take process between businesses and employees.
Microsoft Corporation is a pioneering company of the PC age. However, despite its fast-paced popularity in the 2000s, it has somehow been left off by other brands that have stolen the limelight at the peak of technology advancements.
As time passed by, bureaucratization and individualism took place in Microsoft’s culture, leading them to become stagnant and lackluster.
However, when Satya Nadella became Microsoft’s CEO, the company’s culture changed drastically. It improved the company’s level of interaction with its current and potential customers, making them feel that their success is a huge part of Microsoft’s objective.
Moreover, such changes led the business to introduce and promote new products and business models. The employees were encouraged to learn and develop new skills to master the advancements happening within the company’s products.
It was a culture that fostered creativity, empathy, humility, purpose, and growth.
This resulted in a 90% growth in Microsoft’s stocks, which is triple the amount produced during Bill Gates’ time. Moreover, their employee satisfaction and brand image have also improved.
Reshaping an entire culture is a lengthy process. The transition might cost the company not only money but also opportunities. Innovation culture involves change, not only in the creation of products and services but also in the company’s regular activities and even beliefs.
Changes are conducted to alleviate the current conditions of the business. Moreover, to establish a successful innovation culture, goals must be clearly defined and positioned to foster brand loyalty, people management, and revenue growth.
Pixar Animation Studios is a famous household name in the creative industry, particularly in animated films. The organization emphasizes the psychological and overall well-being of their employees — a fact which is not reflected only in their culture, but also with their movies.
The level of motivation, freedom, and psychological safety they provide for their staff is greatly reflected in the company’s financial performance. They were able to enhance everyone’s creative side, resulting in high-quality outputs.
The important part here is how Pixar listens to the inputs of creative directors despite its context. Even the worst and the most brutal feedback is taken to keep the quality of their films top-notch. No comment is filtered. Flaws are pointed out regularly to root out mediocrity.
This level of honesty and openness is what keeps the Pixar team solid. Everyone is willing and ready to listen and accept feedback. Those in the position of power are also after the best interests of those who work hard for the films to be made.
It keeps trust — an element that is essential for a team to achieve excellence and success. However, this kind of setup does not work for every business. Not everyone can take criticisms without spite, despite how unprofessional it may seem.
But if an organization is to pursue brilliance, trust and honesty from both the employees and the management are indispensable in a company’s innovation culture.
The Procter & Gamble Company has a lot of subsidiaries under its sleeve. As a successful company that is still in the game after nearly 184 years, you might be wondering what P&G did to stay on top of its game.
P&G has always treated innovation as something that’s innate in the business. As a process, innovation is treated systematically, and metrics are determined beforehand to measure success.
Creativity is a staple element in their daily operations, and contradictions that occur within different goods are taken into consideration when creating breakthrough products. This way, problems are solved perfectly without sacrificing any feature of the product you wish to include.
For instance, P&G’s Thermacare was created as a solution for aging baby boomers that experience creaks and muscle twinges.
The contradiction that served as the basis for Thermacare’s formation was how drugs are necessary to treat the pain but are harmful in a way because of their negative side effects.
The realization of how people do not want to live in pain but do not wish to take painkillers either was an opportunity viewed by P&G to come up with something unique, hence Thermacare was born.
Providing ultimate solutions to people’s actual problems is a great motivation for innovation. Furthermore, innovations can also come from the faults, contradictions, and lacking qualities of other existing products.
Creativity must be applied daily, and innovation must not be isolated from mainstream business. Companies must establish themselves as innovation leaders to avoid the clout of competing for resources that are imperative for success.
Dell is one of the world’s leading companies in the computer systems industry to date. Its success is anchored on three concepts.
- Delivering the best possible customer experience is key in achieving market leadership.
- Creating optimal solutions for people is better than focusing on the best technologies.
- Inclusion is vital in thinking innovatively.
A thorough understanding of what keeps your customers satisfied is a huge help in innovating products and services. The entire company is engaged in determining what factors are essential to serve their customers better.
This contributes to the company’s rapid decision-making, which in turn results in a faster response to the needs of the customers.
Information obtained from constant customer engagement is what drives their energy, focus, training, employee education, and management.
As for creating optimal solutions for people, playing on their strength as a sales-and-logistics company, Dell continues to be a remarkable product integrator.
So instead of dedicating their resources to technology development, they chose to focus on product integration — standing by the cascade of technology’s cost, integrating it on their computers, and selling it at a customer-friendly price.
Lastly, in Dell, everyone’s (shareholders, customers, employees, managers) insights count. The company draws innovative ideas from all the parties involved, especially in terms of problem-solving.
From there, different perspectives are considered and treated as opportunities for the company to learn and understand how to approach problems and opportunities in a holistic manner.
Dell teaches us that great innovation culture is customer-centered.
Moreover, inclusion is necessary for achieving innovation, and that an innovative culture does not necessarily focus on the invention of innovative technologies, but may focus on the innovation of current strengths instead.
How to build an innovation culture
It is pivotal for companies to establish their innovation culture right the first time.
Here are 5 ways on how you can build a strong innovation culture within your organization:
- Define where you are. Knowing where you stand in the competitive landscape gives you an excellent overview of what policies, regulations, activities, and processes you must implement to establish a culture that supports innovation.
- Define where you want to be. A strong innovation culture takes goals and objectives into consideration. Let these things shape your company’s day-to-day practices.
- Build a plan to get there. A culture that supports innovation is a culture that fosters growth. Identify the steps that your organization needs to take to grow and strengthen its presence in its chosen industry.
- Execute the plan. Once you have determined everything in the first three steps, put the plan into action.
- Learn and adjust the plan. Be open to receiving feedback. An excellent innovation culture is one that values its employees’ insights. If something doesn’t work the way you want it to, study what needs to be altered and adjust when necessary.
Building an innovation culture might be challenging. If you want, we can always talk about it in one of our innovation and idea management webinar sessions. Feel free to join us at one of our upcoming events.