How your company culture holds the key to effective innovation
A company’s success is not only due its deep market knowledge, super-sharp strategy, or quality service record. While these are all worthy attributes in any business, being able to create new products or services is what will ultimately keep your company driving forward.
Innovation is something all companies aspire to do well, but the creative juices can quickly dry up if the culture prevents staff from voicing an opinion or taking ownership of their work. Yet innovation is a vital component to the growth of a business, of any size. Moreover, any individual, in any role, can help drive business growth, given the opportunity. But how can a business develop a culture that promotes innovation?
A business has to be involving. It has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.
Innovation in business is about creating something that customers will pay for, it’s about thinking one, two and even three steps ahead of your customers to predict what they expect now and in the future. It’s coming up with genuinely exciting and effective ways your company’s products or services can be improved, developed and extended to keep ahead of your competitors.
To innovate requires a certain level or free-thinking, autonomy and out-of-the-box mindsets. This all stems from a company’s culture and how it empowers its people. In companies that are looking to innovate and foster innovation across their business, ensuring the company has a culture to let this thrive is paramount.
Innovation requires a level of independence where employees feel they have the space to solve problems and then have a voice to share these problems, challenges and solutions. As we explained in our post, 5 Secrets to Truly Innovative Teams, people are more creative when they are encouraged by their colleagues, and when leaders understand they can’t innovate alone and allow the team members to actively contribute ideas.
A company’s culture defines how people communicate, whether there is openness and transparency across the business from which problems can be shared and solutions innovated. While ideas and creativity should be encouraged from the bottom up, establishing this open culture is steered from the top down. Managers and leaders who help their teams feel safe to contribute, who listen and empower, and, essentially, trust their staff, create a culture that is secure, fun and invigorating. People become energised, involved and excited by the idea that their involvement in innovating can make a significant impact on the company’s growth and the satisfaction of future customers.
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.
Creative team-building exercises offer an inclusive way to develop an innovative culture and are a powerful tool to build relationships that enable individuals to work together to achieve an end goal. When we feel comfortable around others and identify our common connections, we feel better able to share our ideas and – importantly – be vulnerable to failure without judgement. When a company’s people feel that their ideas, solutions and voices have value, this type of culture will breed an ideas factory and foster innovation, giving your company the drive to succeed.
PermissionToPlay delivers creative thinking training that helps teams gain the skills, mindsets and confidence to solve problems differently, generate original ideas more quickly, and build a culture where innovation can flourish.
A self-confessed creativity buff, Kevin helps teams acquire the skills and confidence to be highly inventive by delving into the creative thinking methods and techniques of today’s leading innovators. Previously, he was a marketing director and strategist with over 20 years’ experience supporting organisations going through major change, from start-ups to large mergers and break-ups. He has worked across diverse sectors, from financial services and tech to charities.
An open culture breeds ideas and fosters innovation