Build a Business Culture That Values Innovation - dummies

Build a Business Culture That Values Innovation

By Dawna Jones

Over-controlling cultures block innovation, which is a product of flexible thinking and a company’s mindset, as well as the ability to spot insights. An unexpected event or a disruption to the routine can be an opportunity to take a serious look at processes that stymie progress, to reinvent how things get done, and to open the door to creative solutions.

Answering the following questions can shed light on how tightly you control situations and data rather than allow intuition or insight to prevail:

  • Do you have excessive procedures and processes in place to control how things get done? If you or your company put too many controls in place, you foster an environment that isn’t conducive to innovation.

  • Do you listen to or ignore information that doesn’t fit the norm or red flags that an employee may raise? If you ignore information that doesn’t fit your or your company’s beliefs or business culture, you are missing the moment to adapt, check for ethical issues, or discover a totally different approach to routine situations.

  • To what extent do you trust your employees to do what is required to achieve a goal? Put simply, in low-trust workplace cultures, employees become conditioned to not take initiative or innovate. Conversely, high-trust workplaces foster employee initiative; they trust their employees to get the job done.

  • Do you punish mistakes or use failures to learn? Trust and the ability to learn from failure are all part of an Innovator’s tool kit; they are also key indicators of whether your organization has the capacity for flexibility.

    Perfectionism can undermine your company’s ability to adapt. Companies that seek perfection squelch creativity and insight. To avoid this trap, try to cultivate a culture that instills higher levels of trust in individuals. This, combined with the organization’s collective talent, can counterbalance fear of mistakes.

When you move closer to the Innovator category, you shift perspective. Instead of seeing a mistake as a failure, you treat it as another step in the experimentation process. Had 3M been locked into perfection, the Post-It Note wouldn’t exist. Post-It Notes came about when a glue that was being formulated wasn’t sticky enough — a happy accident born out of a production mistake.

Similarly, Thomas Edison, who was told he was too stupid to learn anything, viewed his 1,000 attempts to invent the light bulb as 1,000 steps rather than failures. When you become an Innovator, you adopt the spirit of patience and perseverance by staying focused on the goal.