Creating a culture that gives you innovation

Let’s face it; Steve Jobs was a bit of a one off.steve jobs

He fostered a world of innovation at Apple; now one of the top 2 or 3 valued businesses in the world, built on a staple diet of new ideas and pushing boundaries.

Surely the success of Apple would mean that all major businesses now aspire to lead their markets in innovation; understanding the clear benefits and the undoubted rewards?

Erm, no it’s not quite like that. But why not?

Culture. A complete lack of culture that breeds innovation.

Now this a blog post and not a book, so I can only cover a few things in the minefield that is corporate culture and its impact on innovation, but nonetheless, if you work for a major business I am sure you will recognise some, if not all of these traits in your organisation.

The board just don’t get it

You are frustrated by continued restrictions on the organisations ability to take risks, try new things out and challenge the status quo of your marketplace.

Many put it down to a lack of understanding at board level. Actually it is often more than this. The board don’t want to report to investors and shareholders about failure – which is par for the course when innovation is central to business strategy.

How do you get around this? Get rid of the board of course! Okay, it’s not that easy but until everyone is on board with innovation then it’s never going to happen the way you want it to.

Innovation needs time. And that means people.

Innovation is not bred from the odd product development brainstorming session or the infamous marketing department away day to a hotel in Suffolk.

It comes from employing dedicated, creative people who are given the freedom to design, test and challenge the norms – and fail regularly!

Google give all of their employees 20% of their working time to focus on personal projects. That’s not really going to wash at your place though, so you need to create an innovation team that flies the flag for new ideas and new products, and are regarded as important as the finance department and corporate legal team.

Lack of young ‘uns

There is no one type of person who displays the skills and creativity to be innovative, however if we are talking about how social media can help drive innovation, then I believe you need some youth in your team.

I don’t advocate that social innovation is a young person’s game, not at all. Look to combine the experience with the younger minds in your organisation in order to create the perfect blend of innovative thinking, linked to business goals.

Away from the water cooler to the meeting room

It is often said that the best ideas come from a chat between two colleagues at the water cooler – and actually there is something in that, however, you need to move those conversations to the meeting room and then involve others. Cross collaboration between departments and teams is a great way to drive innovation within the business.

You will need to identify the right people with the right mindset and enthusiasm and give them the forum to work together – and not in a stuffy old boardroom!

Creating a culture that breeds innovation is not easy. It does not happen overnight, and everyone needs to be on board.

If you want to review how innovative your organisation is you can download an excellent scoring chart from MIT Sloan.