Many of us discuss innovation, collaboration, change management, and culture. Ultimately, how do you create an organizational culture that is innovative? It starts with the mindset of the leaders and then permeates throughout the organization.
Everyone needs to understand that to innovate, expect the unexpected. This means that when the unexpected happens, people are ready to adjust without fearing the repercussions. Talking about innovation but then firing the teams when they first encounter the unexpected speaks louder than words to the organization. Here are some things that employees may think when they work in a culture that talk’s innovation but does not act innovatively:
- The team who worked on the last innovation project is no longer around.
- I tried to suggest an idea but was told the organization did not have time or money for implementing new ideas.
- Yes we are for innovation but we cannot risk the current business.
- You have to justify such a high ROI, is it worth it?
- I am so busy how can I possibly be innovative?
- The people who are rewarded are those who play by the books.
- Everyone has to stay within their ‘box’ in terms of role or risk their career.
Tie the reward systems to innovation. Reward those who think outside the box, who take intelligent risks (even if they flop), and who collaborate with others when implementing ideas. Have goals for teams and individuals that reward them for working well together and generating ideas. These can be financial rewards, public recognition, or simple ‘way to go’ notes to teams.
Once everyone has an innovative mindset, great ideas will be warmly welcomed and swiftly implemented.