How to Create a Corporate Culture of Innovation

If you want your company to be innovative, you need a support system for innovation. Seems a little obvious, right?
Maybe not. This Global Innovation 1000 study shows that one key thing innovative companies have in common is a culture that supports innovation. However, only half of the companies surveyed have this kind of culture. Wow. Here’s what the study says:
The elements that make up a truly innovative company are many: a focused innovation strategy, a winning overall business strategy, deep customer insight, great talent, and the right set of capabilities to achieve successful execution. More important than any of the individual elements, however, is the role played by corporate culture — the organization’s self-sustaining patterns of behaving, feeling, thinking, and believing — in tying them all together.”
“Yet according to the results of this year’s Global Innovation 1000 study, only about half of all companies say their corporate culture robustly supports their innovation strategy. Moreover, about the same proportion say their innovation strategy is inadequately aligned with their overall corporate strategy. [emphasis mine]”
The report goes on to say that these companies are investing more and more in their research and development departments. Yet, according to the study, R&D spending is not one of the key elements to successful innovation. Why is it that companies like Apple spend less on R&D than their counterparts, and outperform them? One of the reasons might be that their innovation strategy lines up with a corporate culture that actually supports innovation!

6 Ways to Create a Corporate Culture of Innovation

Creating the Right Corporate Culture

Work culture is more than just making sure everyone is happy. It’s the key to survival in a fast-paced world. So, how do you create a corporate culture that supports innovation? We believe you have to start with the following basic values and attitudes:

Hierarchy is Horizontal

Management has authority over resources, budget and strategic direction but does not have power over people’s time (when or where they do work).

Leadership Serves

Leadership does not adhere to a management style based on command/control but instead bring out the best in employees through coaching, mentoring, encouraging self-expression and building a sense of community and joint ownership (Servant Leadership is a popular leadership model developed by Robert K. Greenleaf in 1970).  This leadership style cannot exist in a paternalistic structure.

Time is Powerless

The measure of success is not governed by the adherence to or focus on the traditional workweek ruled by a time-clock.

Orientation is Organizational

Employees are free to work across boundaries, and are encouraged to share and develop ideas outside of departmental structures.

Results are King (no one is entitled)

Motivation is driven by achieving outcomes, and is less about achieving status or position.
Whether your a small or large company learning to create a corporate culture of innovation requires the right mix of all these attributes.  Do you think your company’s strategy for innovation lines up with the work culture? Tell us about it in the comments.
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Jody Thompson

Jody Thompson, along with her partner Cali Ressler, is the Founder of CultureRx and co-creator of the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE). Jody is a nationally recognized keynote speaker and bestselling author. She has been featured on the covers of BusinessWeek, Workforce Management Magazine, HR Magazine, Hybrid Mom Magazine, HR Executive Magazine, and the New York Times. You can find her on Linkedin.

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