How to overcome the culture of “innovation for innovation”

The pressure to focus on the future has become so intense lately that companies are creating innovation-driven roles and teams focused solely on the art of thinking “differently.” It’s a great concept but is it enough to unpack and prepare for the future? In isolation, no. Innovation must have guide rails to be effective. It is also the result of your culture.

The constant battle of trying to predict where the company will land is preparing an “innovation for innovation” perspective. That is, we see more and more companies creating ideas to stay ahead of the game, but with little follow-up. Has ideation become such a necessity that it has become a checkbox exercise, not a growth strategy?

Add in the perpetual proof of concept process and you have an environment that does exactly what it didn’t want to do; ignoring the problems, while big ideas sit in limbo, too expensive or difficult to execute, but too important to be forgotten.

As disruptive thinking is on the rise, what’s the point in innovating if you’re not nimble enough to execute? Why do seemingly simple obstacles, like mobilizing teams, have such an impact?

It starts from within

Innovation stems from your cultural fluidity. That is, the ability of a company to adapt, build and implement change internally. Why? Jack Welch put it best, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”

Businesses need to be able to focus quickly as ideas flourish. They need to be growth oriented and that starts with tackling the confrontation within; the roadblocks, both basic and complicated, which prevent projects from progressing.

One of those obstacles is the creative silo approach mentioned above. Creativity should not be guided by a set of products or a business strategy. He needs the freedom to explore even the wildest concepts. Curiosity also cannot be limited to a certain group of people, no matter how inventive or intelligent they are. Collective intelligence is the starting point for great ideas.

Indeed, when it comes to innovation, the people within a company are more important than the product it sells or the experts who run it. They are the ones who are on the lookout for the “pulse of the industry” every day. They live and breathe the needs of your customers, as well as the services that make your business run. They are insight. We think in Denver we have a market-led design capability.

Create environments that allow exploration

It is one thing to listen, it is another to act. There must be tangible strategies that allow good thinking to go beyond the drawing board.

I believe this conscious culture begins with equal responsibility. Teams need to feel empowered to make decisions, but also have the ability to control each other, from the bottom up and from the top down. This includes the destruction of traditional structures such as inheritance equalizing authority, hierarchy and culture killing bureaucracy.

Other tactics that help create an effective culture of innovation include:

  • Have a mix of doers and thinkers, as well as newbies and regulars. In the case of small businesses, these are the people with the right mindset. They must be hungry, able and courageous; entrepreneurial attitude.
  • Ask for help. Start by admitting that you don’t know everything. Research the behaviors you want to adopt and seek advice on how to build inclusive teams from professionals who specialize in cultural transformation. Take the change seriously, so that others do too.
  • Listen and get involved. Buying a team from the start is essential. They should care about what you are offering. Get everyone together and ask real questions. As noted above, listening is where you find the space to change for the better.
  • Represent something. We live in a world where values ​​and ethics are not just fine words, they mean something. Invest in a culture that not only listens and empowers its people, but has a clear moral compass. Then clearly indicate this compass.

Measuring success from earned value

Finally, we must stop the need for perfection. Ideas will never meet all the elements of a proof of concept exploration. And if they do, well, you’re not asking all the questions you need to. Success comes when failure is an acceptable outcome in the process.

It can be uncomfortable given contemporary thinking about the rate of change, but innovation needs to be measured by the number of ideas that have unlocked a competitive advantage. You have to be nimble to create and deliver. After all, isn’t that the point?

Josh Marshall is the CEO of Denver Technology, one of Australia’s premier specialist resource technology consultancies. In addition to helping clients embrace digital innovation, he is passionate about creating mindful cultures where people are empowered and teams thrive.

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