Embracing Innovation Within Organizational Culture

Culture plays a fundamental role in determining how fast an organization can transform and respond to external shifts. To create a collaborative and innovative culture, it is important to get to know one another as people, since that’s what organizations are made up of – people. It is getting to know one another as individuals that allows us to better understand an organization as a whole.

If you look at your organization as it is today, how would you describe the culture?

People Work in Silos & Protect Territories

Have you ever called a customer service helpline, only to have to re-explain your problem to 3 (or more!) different people because they keep transferring you to someone else? This is how working in silos feels on the customer end.

An organization with this type of culture cannot easily identify opportunities or react quickly to obstacles as they come up. Information is not free-flowing and is often very difficult to get.

Little Collaboration

Most departments or employees keep to themselves; however, if they are called on to provide feedback or help, they do. This approach is not usually very efficient or quick. This lack of proactiveness is often a result of the culture of an organization and less about the individuals.

Can-Do Attitudes

People are generally open to feedback, sharing information, and collaboration with others. However, new ideas are typically slower to be shared, accepted, and executed. Usually, this is because people are comfortable with the status quo. So unless there is a culture that fosters and embraces an environment that rewards innovation and embraces failure, the status quo attitude will remain. Teams need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. That’s when real innovation happens.

High Degree of Collaboration: Employees Work Together to Make Ideas Work

When an innovation culture is established and embraced (and embodied) by the leadership team, people aren’t afraid to share ideas or fail. In these types of organizations, experimentation is encouraged, and there is no shame around failing. Instead, people are open to learning from failure and able to move on quickly. This culture and mindset allows organizations to pivot swiftly and keep a very good pulse on what’s going on at all levels.

If the culture of your organization isn’t entirely where you’d like it to be, now is a great time to shift. We (collectively as a society) are in a state of change. Our “normal” is changing, our values are shifting, and this presents us with an opportunity to take a step back, reassess our direction and priorities, and pivot to make adjustments where needed.

A lot of organizations have different definitions of what innovation is, but at its core, innovation is about changing conventional ways of thinking. How can you be innovative if everyone thinks the same way? Encouraging diverse thinking, empathizing, listening, and trying to understand the world from all different perspectives is what will enhance an organization’s culture of innovation, improve policies, and/or product and service offerings. There’s so much to gain by driving a culture of innovation!

The sum of its individuals forms culture. So a great way to nurture an innovative culture is to ensure the individuals that make up our organizations are resilient, have space to be creative, understand the values of the organization, and embrace collaboration. Leaders need to create an environment where people aren’t afraid to fail – and they especially need to lead by example. Generally, only 10% of experiments see positive results, so if you’re willing to experiment a lot, fail quickly, and allow people to put themselves out there, that 10% will add up quickly. As human beings, we are born naturally curious. Still, as we get older and busier, our innate curiosity is diminished, so let’s get back in touch with our curious side and create a better future!

If this piece resonates with you, you should take a few moments to assess your innovation maturity and identify areas for possible improvement. Our assessment is a great first step towards analyzing your organization’s needs and capacity for increasing innovation. The model will illustrate where your company’s strengths are and areas that may need to be developed further. Take the assessment here.

Watch our Building a Culture of Innovation Webinar to learn more!