Most companies acknowledge the importance of innovation, but few actually know how to be innovative. They don’t realize that innovation must be a cultural imperative to truly succeed.
According to an Accenture study, 95% of business leaders say innovation is crucial to their success. Despite this belief, few people in positions of power realize the role cultural traits such as equality and diversity play in cultivating innovative mindsets.
Technology facilitates innovation in companies with innovative cultures, enabling team members to unlock and realize their full potential. The companies that can nurture that cultural mindset set themselves up to be organizations that continually set the pace within their industries.
Keep Innovation Ongoing
Culture is not a mission statement; it’s your team’s living, breathing approach to collaboration. When you want to add or accentuate innovation in your company, it’s not enough simply to state the culture you want. You must inspire certain qualities to make your vision a reality.
First, build a work environment that encourages employees to seize learning and growth opportunities. Next, create a shared sense of purpose that allows employees to feel proud of the organization’s accomplishments.
Finally, find concrete ways to demonstrate that you actively welcome innovation. Show how products, processes, and even business models enable employees to consistently go to the far reaches of their innovative potential.
Once those foundational qualities are in place, use the following four approaches to spark incredible innovation:
1. Make it safe to innovate. Employees need to feel safe and secure before they can innovate. Provide your potential innovators with a foundation of trust and accountability — and make it clear that they’re responsible for protecting the company’s objectives.
This can happen when employees arrive at your organization or at any stage of their development. No matter when you roll this approach out, show your team members that you trust them enough to try new things.
2. Carve out dedicated time. Innovation cannot happen in the margins; it must be a priority. Make sure your employees know that innovation is part of their jobs.
This corporate value is what drove Adidas to build an innovation lab in its native Germany. Dubbed “Future Lab,” the site observes all aspects of athleticism and uses those findings to tailor Adidas products to meet the needs of modern competitors.
Providing your staff members with the time and space to innovate goes a long way toward stoking a company-wide commitment to relentless innovation.
3. Use innovation as a benchmark. Many leaders think an innovative culture means a wealth of free time and nonessential amenities. In reality, innovative cultures find ways to tie creativity to incentives and competition.
To spark innovation in patient care, for instance, Penn Medicine launched a contest that challenged its 5,000 employees to generate ideas. The result? More than 1,700 suggestions, many of which were incorporated to improve patient experiences.
4. Practice intentional diversity. Diversity is the fuel of innovation. With more voices and brains coming from different places and backgrounds in the mix, new concepts and suggestions are inevitable.
Diverse experience can help product specialists and developers get outside their own knowledge, leading to solutions that better serve the public. Contrary to popular opinion, relentless innovation does not originate from the relentless adoption of new technologies. True innovation emerges as the result of a caring, challenging culture that trusts employees to use their imaginations.