Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Businesses seek to create value by moving faster, being more agile, and unleashing innovation. An innovative culture challenges people to take risks, promotes curiosity and learning, and encourages independent thinking that cultivates engagement, enthusiasm and meaningfulness. All of which strengthens your competitive advantage. Here are 3 ways to nurture an innovative culture:

  1. Consistently communicate that innovation is essential for the success and sustainability of your business. Your personnel must understand that it is not optional. Promote collaboration with customers to develop novel concepts which meet their needs while enabling them to achieve an aspiration. Provide time and space to brainstorm during weekly meetings or independently with associates. Establish guidelines for ideas or suggestions to ensure that those submitted cite quantifiable benefits like revenue generation, quality or productivity improvements, or cost/time savings. Launch a cross-functional team to evaluate and prioritize proposed ideas and suggestions using these guidelines. Allow sufficient time for innovative ideas to develop. Encourage champions, recognizing and rewarding those whose innovations are validated, and the managers who excel at motivating their teams to improve and innovate.
     
  2. Drive fear of failure from your workplace. Leaders who react negatively to a new idea or a failed attempt, create a fear of failure that constrains innovation. The result: predictable, in-the-box thinking and continued ‘more of same’ rationale. Leaders who encourage curiosity, creativity and risk-taking, position failure as a learning opportunity; they enable their people to feel safe exploring what is possible while accepting a reasonable risk of failure. People are more creative and innovative when they are free to share their ideas.
     
  3. Measure and report about innovation. Make innovation a vital part of your business, easily accessible for everyone. Report how it creates value for your customers’ business and for yours. Put systems in place to measure results regarding improved speed and agility, increased productivity, and faster time-to-market. Cite accelerated decision-making, greater transparency and higher efficiency throughout the company, justifying your company’s commitment to innovation.

The benefits for nurturing an innovative culture include positive external recognition by customers and competitors, and internal reinforcement of the company’s values, behaviors, and culture. This combination creates value and strengthens business sustainability.

How strongly is innovation embedded in your company’s culture?

How might you better nurture innovation in your business?