How to Create a Culture of Innovation

January 21, 2022 by  

The term innovation has become a hot topic in the workforce. While organizations may execute innovation differently, they can all agree on one thing: innovation is the key to building distinct value for your workforce and customers.
Let’s discuss the what and the why behind innovation and then dive into the how—the four tangible ways you can begin creating a culture of innovation today.

What Is a Culture of Innovation?
A culture of innovation is a workplace environment that values and encourages creative thinking. It unlocks ideas that may be unconventional yet can drive positive, long-term change for the organization.
Business leaders of an innovative culture understand the economic and social value of creativity and do their part to prioritize innovation at all levels of their company.

Why Is Innovation Important?
Innovation focuses on looking beyond the obvious to think of unique ways to bolster an organization’s unique value proposition.

Consider the following statistics on innovation:
• Innovation helps organizations foster a competitive advantage and govern their economic success.
• Executives believe 40 percent of their innovation strategies have positively impacted their bottom line.
• 84 percent of executives believe innovation is vital for their growth strategy.

How Do You Create a Culture of Innovation?
Below, we’ve outlined four main characteristics a culture of innovation encompasses and tangible tips on how to achieve them. We encourage you to use these tips to help you create a culture of innovation at your organization.

1. Step Outside of the R&D Framework
Often, when there is a dedicated research and development (R&D) team at an organization, it can cause other workforce members to believe their roles do not require or are not capable of creative thinking. As a result, innovation is limited to only one group at the organization.
This is a traditional approach, which enterprise software company SAP criticizes. According to SAP, innovation should not be exclusive to one person, team, or department. In an innovative culture, every team member can contribute ideas.

How to Achieve This
Stepping outside the traditional R&D framework and instilling company-wide innovation requires:
• Finding ways for creative team members to regularly collaborate with the R&D team and break down departmental silos.
• Initiating regular dialogue about what creativity means to individuals and how the organization can cohesively drive innovation.
• Leveraging technology such as collaborative analytics to make R&D more of a company-wide effort. Collaborative analytics can bring people together and speed up decision-making processes by 46 percent.

2. Nurture Collaboration
Millennials, the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, enjoy interacting with individuals who excite and interest them. In innovative business culture, business leaders recognize this and leverage this energy to improve innovation.

How to Achieve This………
Everyone, no matter their title or role, has creative potential. An innovative culture recognizes that ideas must be shared to truly value and capitalize on the advantages creativity can produce.
Business leaders can improve and nurture collaboration by omitting strict departmental rules that may be siloing teams. Encourage workforce members to take part in meetings and projects outside of their usual roles.
This allows people to step outside their comfort zones and learn from new colleagues. The more well-rounded your workforce can be, the better they can contribute innovative ideas that support organizational objectives.

3. Embrace Failure
As Thomas Edison said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Rather than instilling fear, failure elicits drive and innovation in people who are part of an innovative culture. They understand risk and failure are part of the process and, ultimately, help refine their path to success.

How to Achieve This………
Leaders can help their organization embrace failure by:
• Investing in learning. Business leaders can consider hosting events such as boot camps that encourage teams to complete a project together. Incorporate training, debriefing, and feedback sessions to help individuals confront roadblocks head-on and view failure as a learning opportunity rather than something that undermines their skills.
• Focusing on finding solutions. It’s easy to mull over errors. Instead, encourage your teams to proactively discover solutions to those problems. This can be a great learning opportunity that can help them masterfully navigate change. Leaders who view change as an opportunity for innovation can develop a more creative and optimistic outlook to change the process.

4. Encourage and Reward Creative Ideas
It can be daunting for team members to speak up, take risks, and be vulnerable. This is why leadership must provide an open invitation to encourage workforce members to do so.
With leadership’s support, workforce members can feel more confident and comfortable sharing ideas and spearheading innovation in their roles.

How to Achieve This
Business leaders should reiterate the importance of innovation across all departments by:
• Illustrating the positive outcomes of one’s innovative idea. Highlight a success story during a company meeting that shows how creative ideas turned into profitable services and products. Show your appreciation and reward innovative behaviors; everyone else will feel compelled to follow suit.
• Encouraging management to identify and support creatives on their team. Confidence and creativity do not go hand in hand. Sometimes, your most soft-spoken workforce members are your most creative. Therefore, work with your managers to identify them and think about ways you can enhance their roles by asking:
• Is a team member’s current role creatively fulfilling to them?
What areas of their job can be improved to benefit both the team member and organization?

Wherever your organization stands, we encourage you to review these guiding tips on creating an innovative culture. Give your business and workforce members the competitive advantage they deserve.