Studies have shown that corporate culture is the most significant element of innovation. Your leaders are the key elements in the creation of that culture. All the money in the world and all the R&D resources in the world won't make as big an impact as your leaders will. But creating a more innovative culture isn't easy to do because by nature, human beings are resistant to change.
The Challenges of Change: Please know we’re all in the same boat here, and I’m no exception. We’ve ALL experienced the challenges of change. I know that every time I get a new computer or a new operating system comes out, it drives me crazy. I KNOW this is supposed to make life better, I KNOW it’s a positive innovation for the future…. But I throw up my hands in frustration because things don’t look the same. I’m not sure how to do what I used to do and I want to keep my old computer nearby as my safety blanket. That’s just a small example, but I’m sure we can all relate to that. Now take it up a notch and think about this organization wide. A few of my clients have been trying to implement SAP business management software throughout their company and people complain like crazy. They don’t know how to do it and it slows everything down.
Add to that an even bigger challenge of being the inventor or creator of an improved change in policy, structure or products and it’s even more difficult. Employees can be hesitant to suggest new approaches because those around them don’t want to do it differently. Or an employee may be unsure if that’s their role to suggest an improvement, especially if no one else around them is offering suggestions. It takes targeted communication to build an innovative culture, and that must start with leadership.
Key Thing: One of the biggest challenges to creating a climate for innovation is leadership, according to a recent survey of almost 300 senior executives worldwide in 17 industries and interviews conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of Oliver Wyman. That was followed closely by the related challenges of creating an organization structure that facilitates innovation and focusing innovation in the right places.
Find out what your organization's Innovative Leadership strengths and weaknesses are in these areas:
- Vision and Mission - Create mission and vision statements for your work unit that emphasizes innovation.
- Communication - Discuss the importance of innovation in regular meetings. Share innovative ideas and successes from all parts of the organization.
- Engagement and Motivators - Demonstrate personal curiosity and inquisitiveness. Walk your talk as a leader.
- Mentorship and Performance - Recognize others for thinking outside the box. Communicate progress taken on their ideas.
- Innovative Climate - Make it OK to make mistakes. Model risk taking and open communication by sharing professional success and failures with the team. Constantly challenge employees and the team to think of better ways to do things. Always seek to make it better. Encourage employees to produce original answers to a problem or question. Don't give them the answers. Ask them to come to you with the problem AND the solution.
Companies today face a harsh reality...they must innovate or die. Senior executives recognize that failing to innovate would create a critical risk to their organization's growth, even its survival. Research indicates that the number one challenge to delivering business results today is the ability of leaders to create a climate for innovation. View our recorded webinar on "INNOVATION: 5 Ways Leaders Can Promote an Innovative Culture".