I was recently asked these two questions on innovation culture:
What would be your approach/steps to create an entrepreneurial and innovational culture?
What are the elements, processes and tools that a large organization can typically do to become a top 100 innovation company?
It is of course not possible to give a complete off-the-shelf answer to these questions as every company has their own issues, challenges, strengths and weaknesses, but I still think it is possible to outline a set of thoughts and ideas for becoming a top innovation company. Here are my suggestions:
I like how Arla – a Nordic dairy company – has developed a corporate vision that could help fuel their innovation efforts and inspiration. It is: Creating the future of dairy to bring health and inspiration to the world, naturally. You can read more about the Arla vision here.
Now, companies need to upgrade their innovation mindset and skills across the board – executives, managers, employees and external partners. This little story speaks in volumes about how companies will tackle the built-up deficit in innovation training and development in different ways.
A CFO is wary about investing in the training and education of the employees. He asks the CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave the company?” The CEO is a bright person and replies: “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”
Nicely put! We are definitely going to see some winners and losers in the coming years based on how they put their innovation training programs together. You can get some inspiration for this here: Innovation Training Programs – More Important than Ever!
Too often, corporate innovation teams focus too much on ideas and projects downplaying the role of identifying and developing the right people for the right projects at the right time. You need to strike a proper balance here and while working on this balance, I suggest they should put people first.
I find intrapreneurship and corporate business plan competitions to be an interesting–and underrated tool–for this. Check these posts for more inspiration.
You need to find the pockets of strong innovation efforts within the organization, share this with everyone, continue to build an even stronger foundation based on these pockets while continuously creating strong stories to further develop the perception that you are a top innovative company.
The worst you can do is to leave the impression that “our organization is not really that innovative, but this is something we are aware and now we want to change this”. If you create this perception, then you have an uphill battle to fight. It is better to build on something positive.
And if you really want to create a learning culture that becomes more innovative, perhaps you should start to reward behaviors as much as outcomes…
[This post originally appeared on 15inno and is republished with permission.]