All companies, whether they are successful with innovation or not, have one thing in common: they have their own “personalities.” These personalities are their unique organizational cultures – the shared experiences, values, norms, assumptions and beliefs that shape individual and group behavior, and that (for better or for worse) ultimately impact their business success.
The most innovative companies pull the right levers to create a culture that leads to exploration, experimentation, and the innovations that positively surprise the market, create competitive differentiation, and drive growth.
So how do you do it?
Needless to say, there’s no simple answer. Entire books, courses, and graduate school programs have focused on the topic.
This last week at the Front End of Innovation conference in Boston, I shared a presentation on the Strategies and Tools for Creating a Culture of Innovation. Anyone tasked with leading organizational or culture change initiatives focused on innovation might benefit from the Culture of Innovation Canvas that I shared during my presentation. It’s a simple tool (download PDF or download PowerPoint) for defining the following dimensions of an organization’s innovation culture:
- Leadership – How leaders influence innovation through explicit decisions and subtle behaviors
- Processes – How growth strategies and innovation are executed internally and externally including functional and cross-functional processes, customer engagement, information sharing, product and service development, and other activities
- Structure – The formal and informal organizing principles and functional designs that enable (or inhibit) collaboration and guide mindsets & behavior
- People – The mindsets and skillsets of employees, leaders, external partners and even customers tied to creative thinking, prototyping, and execution of new ideas and opportunities
- Metrics, Rewards & Recognition – The mindsets and skillsets of employees, leaders, external partners and even customers tied to creative thinking, prototyping, and execution of new ideas and opportunities
- Technology – Capabilities and tools that allow employees, external partners and customers to connect, share knowledge, and innovate
There are also a number of resources that can be used to assess your current culture to identify opportunities for infusing a greater innovation focus:
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, recently said, “There’s no formula. If there was a formula, a lot of companies would have bought their ability to innovate.” When it comes down to it, every leader and every company has an opportunity to create their own unique formula for innovation. That’s the source of real innovation.