About 10 days ago a client asked me "How do we create an innovative culture in our organisation?"
And I blurted out "Do the right thing, culture will create itself."
It sounded somewhat profound and nice. He seemed pleased and walked away. I too felt happy - the line sounded good.
Next morning I was beginning to get restless. What if some one asked "What is the right thing?" As I started thinking about it, I realised that I really believed in it.
I remembered my advertising and direct marketing days. Many good creative people wanted to join us because 'there was a clear demand for good creative work. The agency worked hard to ensure that bold work was in demand both in the agency and with their clients.'
So it was like a market situation of demand and supply.
Here are a few thoughts if you want to create an 'innovation culture'
1. 'What the leaders believe and how they behave'
Innovation is not about idea managements systems and processes. It is primarily about whether the leader really wants innovation, believes it will make a difference and is passionate about supporting it in matters big & small.
If he says nice things but plays safe, it is like sowing the seeds but provide no nourishment or water for the plant to grow.
He must make it unequivocally clear that he is hungry and is in the market for ideas that will propel the business into its next orbit.
2. Who are the heroes in your company?
Who is celebrated and respected as a hero in the company? People who solve problems, make things happen, fearless about sharing ideas? The guys who get their ideas through no matter what. Or people who push structure, systems policies, processes etc.?
(Even in companies that are highly structure and policy oriented there are 'talented mavericks')
By defining who is considered a 'hero' you will encourage many more people to be innovative in their thinking and decisions.
3. What do people need permission and approvals for?
What can people do without having to ask for anyone's permission? How flexible (or rigid) are your corridors of freedom?
My submission is that if these three things are clear, then you are well on your way to creating an innovation culture.
Therefore focus on what are your answers to these 3 questions and do the right thing. Culture will follow.
(Source: Sridhar R, Management Consultant, Mumbai, India)