5 Tough Realities Of Building A Culture Of Innovation

The most innovative companies don’t simply generate a steady stream of good ideas: they benefit from a “culture of innovation” that solicits, captures, prioritizes, and executes new approaches to virtually every facet of operations, from product creation to process improvements.

While there are many different ways to create such a culture, the five points listed below will help guide whatever approach you ultimately take. Therefore, bear in mind that:

1. Efficiency Can Kill Innovation

Operational efficiency is great, but if taken too far, it can stifle the creative culture necessary to foster innovation. In many ways, innovation management turns efficiency on its head, measuring success not only by results, but by input as well — even if much of that input is abandoned or leads to outright failure. (See the next point.)

2. Expect Failure — Lots of It

Just as a venture capital fund might expect 80 per cent of its investments to fail, so, too, must innovative companies accept that most ideas — even those that are pursued to the fullest — will not pan out. But those that succeed will more than compensate for the failures.

3. Discipline Breeds Success

A creative, innovative culture does not equal anarchy. The more disciplined your innovation-management processes become, the greater the likelihood you’ll have results to show for your efforts. Think of innovation as a muscle you strengthen over time.

4. Innovation Is Strategic

Companies categorized as innovation “Superstars” don’t leave innovation to chance. Rather, they focus their innovation efforts around strategic goals and pursue innovation consistently and methodically, rather than in response to some pressing need.

5. Innovation Is About Leadership as Much As It Is About Ideas or Processes

Truly innovative organisations are open, collaborative, and iconoclastic, characteristics that can’t be achieved overnight. Becoming such an organisation often requires deep cultural shifts in training, hiring, team dynamics, risk tolerance, and most important of all, senior leadership commitment.

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