Innovative Culture

Why is having an innovative culture so important?

First, Understand the Difference Between Innovation vs. Creativity

When we think of innovation, we think of imaginative and original creations that solve problems and offer solutions. In truth, while creativity is at the root of innovation, creativity doesn’t guarantee innovation.

And what is the difference between creativity and innovation, anyway?

Think of it this way: Creativity is the ability to generate novel and useful ideas, while innovation is the successful implementation of creative ideas.

If you’ve been part of a creative or innovative team, it wasn’t just the specific people and their skillsets that contributed to your success. Likely, you were working within an business framework that created a culture of innovation. As a result, the work was interesting and challenging, your manager was confident in the team, new ideas were encouraged, and roadblocks weren’t always in your way.

Why is having an innovative culture so important? We are now amid the third industrial revolution – driven by transformative changes to the communications, transportation and energy industries. Communications is becoming instantaneous across the globe via a plethora of digital mediums. Transportation is moving away from fossil fuels to electric and hydrogen. Energy is moving from fossil fuels to sustainable energy such as solar, wind, thermal, tidal, etc.

Amidst this industrial revolution, is also an exponential growth of technologies occurring – eg AI, Blockchain, VR/AR, Robotics, Automation, and 3D Printing…

So due to this rapid rate of change, adapting to the future markets will be critical. What is the alternative? The outcome might be a Kodak moment (or Blockbuster, Nokia, Blackberry) where a lack of adaption to change, saw company demise.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin

Collaboration and improvisation will be key elements for adapting to the rapid changes head – and these elements occur within an innovative culture – a culture that looks forward with ambition and hope – because with change comes opportunity!

Do you have an innovative culture? My observations are that most people desire to work in an innovative culture – where ideas are eagerly heard and enthusiastically progressed. However, sadly innovative cultures are all too rare. Why? 

The main four barriers that I have observed are:

1. Too busy – the ‘mantra’ in the business is “we don’t have the time”

2. Lack know-how – “we haven’t done this before and we don’t know how to”

3. Lack capital – “this will cost money and may not provide a return”

4. Lack discipline – “we had other issues arise and haven’t kept it progressing”

My tips to overcome the four barriers are:

1. Dedicate a block of time each week to work on the ‘innovation project’

2. Seek ideas and support to ‘coach’ you through the process of taking an idea to implementation

3. Test the idea early – there is no substitution for understanding the cost:benefit of an idea, than to seek evidence from potential ideal customers

4. Guard the time and resources set aside for the innovation project 

The world is changing quickly, and we need to mindfully invest in the future of the business. So unless we consciously cultivate an innovative culture, the ideas that will make your business relevant in the future may not be heard and progressed.

By Glenn Taylor

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