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How to Create a Culture of Innovation

How to Create a Culture of Innovation
How to Create a Culture of Innovation

How to Create a Culture of Innovation

Many things come to mind when we hear the word innovation. 

  • A brand-new product. 
  • A creative idea. 
  • A new way of doing things. 
  • Something that hasn’t been done before. 

Innovation is about successfully implementing a new idea and creating value for your customers and stakeholders. Innovation starts with a new idea. It could be a plan for a next-generation product or service, a major upgrade to your operations or technology, or implementing an entirely new business model. 

Whatever innovation means to you, we all know that one of the surefire ways to get there is by creating a culture where innovation is supported, rewarded, and recognized.

Glass Half Full and Glass Half Empty Mindset

A culture that values creativity and risk-taking is more likely to foster innovation. When employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas and taking chances, it's more likely that the company will develop new products and services that meet the needs of its customers.  

In a Harvard Business Review article, the renowned business guru Peter Drucker wrote that “the glass is half full” and “the glass is half empty” are descriptions of the same phenomenon but have vastly different meanings. Changing a manager’s perception of a glass from half full to half empty opens up big innovation opportunities. 

According to Drucker, a change in perception does not alter facts. It changes their meaning, though—and very quickly. It took less than two years for the computer to change from being perceived as a threat and as something only big businesses would use to something individuals use daily. What determines whether people see a glass as half full or half empty is mood rather than fact, and a change in mood often defies quantification. But It can be defined. It can be tested. And it can be exploited for innovation opportunities. 

So, just how do you create a glass-half-full culture of innovation? 

How Creating Psychological Safety Helps Leaders Make Better Business Decisions

Provide Psychological Safety 

Simply put, when you have psychological safety on a team, people feel comfortable being themselves. Psychological safety is a term coined by Harvard Professor Amy Edmondson. 

It’s a shared belief held by members of a team that they won’t be embarrassed, rejected, punished, or humiliated for speaking up. Team members can openly voice ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. 

A workplace with high psychological safety can foster creativity, innovation, and learning. It can encourage employees to share their ideas, experiment, and take risks. It can also lead to better problem-solving and decision-making, as diverse perspectives and opinions are heard and considered. 

Hire, Recognize, and Reward Visionary Leaders 

Visionary leadership is characterized by someone who can rally the organization around a shifting vision or organizational destination no matter how heavy and radical the lift is. Organizations with visionary leaders are marked by a psychologically safe environment that fosters creativity and innovation while keeping the employees on the path to meeting the goals and vision set forth. 

These leaders have the ability to muster the team and lead them in a way that breeds collaboration and synergistic relationships. Through an innate ability to communicate and inspire, they lead organizations into the future and keep them on the path to success. 

It has been proven that under a visionary leader, creativity and innovation are able to develop and thrive, allowing organizations to expand their horizons to create and meet goals that may have otherwise seemed outside their reach. Leaders give the organization and the employees a sense of purpose and direction, acting as a compass as they move into uncharted territory and sail toward the vision.   

An Executive’s Guide to Visionary Leadership

Be Transparent 

Transparency means that you need to be honest at all stages of your business. The importance of integrity is true for your communications with peers, employees, clients, customers, supervisors, and more.  

Transparency means that you align your communication with a set of values.  

In some siloed leadership dynamics, information is guarded carefully or used to manipulate employees, if not lie to them outright.  

Transparency also helps increase productivity and innovation. If you keep your employees in the dark, they may feel like they can’t anticipate massive changes within your industry or your company.  Keep employees and leaders in the know and give them the information they need to strategically and outside the box. 

Recognize and Reward Innovative Achievement 

Acknowledgment is a powerful motivator. Recognize and reward both individual and team achievements. Recognizing outstanding work motivates employees and reinforces the behaviors and outcomes that contribute to the company's success. 

Celebrating achievements, big or small, fosters a culture where employees feel valued and appreciated. It serves as a catalyst for increased morale, innovation, productivity, and a deeper sense of belonging within the organization. 

Reinforce Positive Behavior in the Workplace Through Employee Recognition

Promote Collaboration and Teamwork 

Foster a collaborative environment where teamwork is encouraged and celebrated. Encourage cross-departmental collaboration, facilitate team-building activities, and create platforms for sharing employee knowledge and expertise. 

Remember, a culture of innovation isn't just a destination; it's an ongoing journey worth embarking on for the success and future of your organization. 

Offer Continuous Learning and Development  

Investing in employees' growth isn't just an expense; it's an investment with invaluable returns. Encouraging a culture that values continuous learning through training programs, mentorships, and opportunities for skill development enriches individual capabilities and enhances overall organizational competence.   

This investment has unlimited ROI for ongoing learning growth and innovation throughout all levels and departments of the company. 

What’s the ROI? 

Focusing on the actions above to create a culture of innovation has a big payoff. 

A study by IBM found that companies with a strong culture of innovation are more likely to achieve their financial goals. A study by McKinsey found that companies that invest in innovation are more likely to grow their revenue and profits.  

And we know that employees engaged in cultures of innovation more frequently come up with and share new ideas and suggestions for improvements, which provides a competitive edge in the market.   

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About Author

Kelly George
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