February 8, 2017

Innovation That Fits: Creating a Culture of Innovation

In the fourth post of the Innovation that Fits series, we will discuss the drivers of culture within an organization’s community and how to leverage them to create a culture that embraces change and enables innovation.

In order for companies to thrive and evolve in these rapidly-changing times, it is essential to foster a corporate culture that embraces change and innovation. As we’ve discussed, change is not always innovative, but innovation always requires change. And although this is a widely-known and understood principle, the intangible nature of culture can sometimes make the task of developing a change-positive climate seem overwhelming for many organizations and individuals.

Define Processes that Define Culture

Culture is the set of shared principles, beliefs, and behaviors that exist within a community. It consists of processes for problem solving and wisdom sharing, learning, and advocacy. When an organization looks to build a culture of innovation, it is absolutely necessary to examine the processes a community uses to share information and solve problems, and correct any gaps or roadblocks within those processes.

The same communication tools that enable communities to unite around a common goal, also enable the processes that create culture. Given the opportunity, change-positive communities will find ways to learn from each other and spread innovation. These processes can also empower individuals to act as champions and leaders, strengthening the community.

Fostering an innovative community is not something that can be done as a one-time project. Instead, it takes a long-term transformational strategy to support ongoing learning opportunities and open communication channels across the community to produce advocacy and understanding (more on this in our next post).

Community Leadership

It is essential that leaders exemplify and support the attitude and behaviors that they wish to see within their organization, because much of corporate culture is infused from the top down. Additionally, because corporate leadership directly influences how their own community develops, they have the opportunity to reward and elevate the individuals who will best be able to lead innovative and thriving teams.

If empowered by the leadership, a corporate community will naturally produce champions to serve as agents of change. They will be among the first advocates for transformation, and will spread enthusiasm and knowledge throughout the community. Identifying and supporting champions will reinforce their role within the community, encouraging the group to take an interest in the transformation, and perhaps make unexpected contributions through their participation.

Culture happens organically, but is driven and reinforced from the top down. An executive or consultant may provide direction or pioneer a solution, but it is the community and their culture that truly creates, enables, and sustains innovation. Learn more about arming your culture with education in our next post, “Developing the Innovation Skillset.”