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Organizational Culture Re-defined: 5 Behaviors Critical to Creating an Innovation Culture

Inspiring breakthrough innovation in business models and solutions is becoming critical for organizations’ existence, as startups through their innovation have been consistently disrupting large organizations globally.  To foster innovation, the key ingredient is creating an organizational culture that encourages innovation in all spheres.  Every organization, today, aspires to nurture a culture of innovation where employees are motivated to take initiatives that result in the creation of innovative products.  However, the actual execution of this aspiration and developing such a culture baffles many senior executives, and eventually inhibits the success of innovation endeavors.

Senior executives often focus entirely on how to set up an innovative culture.  In doing so, they overlook meticulously planning and executing initiatives required to develop an innovation-focused culture.  Corporate Culture is the outcome of collective behaviors, which necessitates the employees to embrace innovative behaviors at the outset.  The culture automatically becomes innovation focused when people become more creative.

Research on the most critical element for success reveals “right leadership” and “culture” to be the top priority for CEOs.  Other areas of importance in the creation of a culture of innovation include creative potential, readiness to teamwork, and willingness to challenge the status quo.  Innovation is slowly becoming a priority for most organizations, so much so that many enterprises now anticipate their employees to assign proper time to generate new ideas.

To instill an Innovation Culture, organizations need to converge their emphasis on shifting the existing behaviors of their people to 5 key behaviors that are critical in creating an Innovation Culture.  Widespread adoption of these 5 behaviors is essential for making innovation part of the organizational DNA:

  1. Ecosystem-wide Collaboration
  2. Support for Intrapreneurs
  3. Speed and Agility
  4. A Venture Capitalist Mindset
  5. Operational Excellence (OpEx) Coupled with Innovation

Now, let’s take a deeper view of the first 3 behaviors critical for creating an innovation culture.

Ecosystem-wide Collaboration

Innovation warrants effective teamwork and strong coordination between discrete departments, specialties, locations, vendors, and partners.  To develop an innovative culture and organization-wide collaboration, leaders need to select top people internally and capable partners externally, and mobilize them to integrate like a single team.

Strong external partnerships are just as valuable and provide you the opportunity to utilize the intellect of smart people outside the boundaries of your organization—to create a differential edge over your competitors.  Teamwork, inter-departmental partnerships, and external alliances help deliver optimum solutions and breakthrough products.  This also allows for quicker development of business ideas.

Support for Intrapreneurs

Intrapreneurs are internal employees within large organizations who are gifted with an entrepreneurial mindset, which they use—alongside enterprise resources—to turn an idea into a profitable product or solution through assertive risk-taking and innovation.  Intrapreneurs should be motivated to qualify opportunities and shape them into high-yielding innovations by providing access to corporate resources and collaboration.

In order to support intrapreneurs to be successful, leadership needs to measure and recognize their innovative potential and accomplishments.  For instance, the percentage of employees trained in innovation processes and the magnitude and potency of the collaboration ecosystem.  This can also be in the form of number of meaningful ideas in an intrapreneur’s pipeline, stability and robustness of the innovation portfolio, and the prompt pace of commercialization of ideas.

Speed and Agility

Developing an innovation culture necessitates broad readiness to adopt and leverage new technologies effectively and promptly.  Adopting agile mindsets and approaches helps organizations take actions quickly to changing trends or circumstances, keep the innovation running, and displace competitors that have significantly more resources.  Agile approaches also facilitate in quickly distinguishing and selecting ideas, and commercializing the ideas through prototyping.

Interested in learning more about the 5 key behaviors essential for making innovation part of the organizational DNA?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Innovation Culture here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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