A step-by-step guide to creating the perfect innovation culture at work

17th Aug 2016
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“Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship, the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.” – Peter Drucker, management consultant, educator and author

Innovate. Create. Ideate. We have heard these three cyclical phases repeated over and over through the years. In any work culture, innovation is a mandate for growth. To this end, employees occupying every rung of the hierarchical ladder are encouraged to contribute to their heart’s content.

12 Innovation

Business leaders constantly encourage their employees to take legendary risks that will change the very face of the company by endorsing a highly innovative culture. However, the reason they fail at times is because they are too busy focusing on the ‘bigger picture’ to have the vision to create and implement changes that will direct the company towards this culture.

As Rob Shelton, Managing Director of PwC (US) puts it, “Culture is the net effect of shared behaviours, and therefore adopting innovative behaviours must come first. You change the culture by becoming more innovative—not the other way around,” as stated in HealthManagement.org.

Some companies are afraid of opening their arms too wide when it comes to adopting measures towards innovation because they are too afraid of the setbacks they’ll be left to receive in case the former don’t fall through. However, everyone is afraid of failing, and even the greatest business tycoons of the industry have experienced shaky grounds when these implemented changes have gone horribly wrong. But trial and error is the motto for the business world, and if you want to play it safe, chances are you’ll never end up making it big.

To make sure that you don’t fall victim to this, and to help steer your company towards this culture of innovation, here are five measures you can practise.

Intensive team work

As repetitive as this may sound, it is imperative that you entrench this in your business manifestos because innovation is a team sport and requires collaboration. You need to hunt down all the talent lurking across the many different branches of your company and pool them all together to maximise your resources and channelise them towards success.

Public encouragement

It is important to give public recognition to innovators. This will encourage them to keep their creative levels high. Bonuses and other monetary benefits work too, but they don’t hold the same value as that of public acclaim. Also, when you promote these individuals on the basis of their contributions, their co-workers will take note and turn to them in moments of crisis. This move will also indicate to all of the company’s employees that it will reward those who help endorse an innovative culture.

Operational excellence teemed with occasional ‘glitches’

The key is to excel in operations, even in the face of disruptive innovation. According to a recent survey by the PwC conducted by its CEOs, 64 percent of them think that innovation and operational effectiveness are equally important to a company’s success. Some of the greatest and most successful companies have proved that they can achieve ‘operational excellence’ while carrying out their regular activities of ideating and developing products to reshape their markets, as well. The trick is to find a balance between the two – a bulletproof plan to achieve maximum success. At the same time, it is imperative to understand that no idea is fool-proof, and there are chances that a highly effective idea may not lead anywhere. The trick is to be unperturbed by this, to go ahead and learn from the mistakes made and to do even better next time.

Be clear with your intent for innovation

It is important for a company to be clear about its intent from the very beginning and to take whatever means necessary to make it happen. This involves laying out a planned structure and adding on to it, as per the situations and market changes. The idea is to make it all about the customer and to meet their needs and to improve their financial lives to the maximum.

Encourage bottom-up innovation

The greatest innovation can come from anywhere. No one guessed that Newton and Einstein would become scientific legends who would change history. In fact, both of them were undervalued for a long time during the early phase of their profession. Companies should take this example and spread open their idea-journals to every single branch at large – right from the intern to the executive who’s on his fifteenth year. The greatest idea could come from anywhere.

Follow these steps and watch your company become innovative.

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