Bright, articulate, intelligent, inventive, knowledgeable…. all these may apply perfectly to your team; but it doesn’t necessarily mean that a culture of innovation sits at the heart of your organisation. Yes, the business may be stuffed with employees who are bubbling over with ideas for new products; but if you think that being innovative is the same as having an innovation culture then, putting it bluntly, you are wrong!
Innovation is not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.
It doesn’t matter whether you work in the field of medicine, tasked with creating the cure for some horrible disease, or whether your role as a governmental organisation requires you to stay one step ahead of potential threats. It doesn’t even matter if you work in a purely creative field such as the arts or communication. Whatever the personal characteristics of your employees, however routine or otherwise the task, an innovation culture transcends the outward organisational mission and creates an exceptional experience for all those whom it encounters.
Let’s take the field of content marketing for example. Writing blogs, promoting web content, creating a digital campaign; all tasks which sit firmly in the creative sphere and yet some creative agencies are so tied up with rules and processes and hierarchy that it is a miracle the client receives any service at all. But every now and then we come across a company, which has truly embraced the principles of innovation culture. One such organisation is Digital Relevance. www.relevance.com Founded as a sister company to Slingshot SEO, Digital Relevance posted a revenue increase of 3596.8% over a three year period, with the growth coming mainly from client recommendations. In a competitive world, with two million blog posts pouring online every day it takes something special to stand out and reach your intended audience. Digital Relevance has managed to capture the essence of a successful campaign and its belief that thought leadership wins out over slick salesmanship has helped to create a game changing social media presence for its clients.
But far more than that, the founders of Digital Relevance understand the way in which culture and people interact to produce an innovative whole. In a Huffington Post article one of the Digital Relevance team, Joseph Parker, outlined some of the ethos behind the organisation’s success. At the heart of the business sits the simple belief in “an environment that aligns, cultivates and encourages innovation in such a way that aligns with the employee.” Studies have shown that the number one factor for millennials is a sense of meaning, “a sense of belonging to a larger cause, where the person can be a giver in the service of something greater than himself or herself.” By aligning the culture to the employees it is possible to create an environment in which employees are willing, even eager, to put their all into the task, and this in turn creates an exceptional level of customer service. But innovation culture is far more than simply having a great culture. Creating the conditions in which innovation thrives means being prepared to step outside of rigid guidelines and encourage experimentation. Digital Relevance employees are encouraged to step outside their normal roles and explore solutions, which meet customer needs as well as meeting the extended needs of employees. The result, says Joseph Parker, is “a passion that creates problem-solving, engaging content that drives real, long-term conversions.”
Innovation action point…
The message from the Digital Relevance experience is simply that innovation is about people. Innovation strategies won’t work unless they start with a basic understanding of what drives your employees to contribute to innovation and a deep understanding of customer in order to unearth needs, wants and desires. So before you dive into creativity trying to solve the problems you identify, take time to understand and plan with your people and customers in mind.
Strategy + Culture + Alignment; Innovation isn’t rocket science, however it is hard work, but then it’s also a game changer!
Everyone says they want or need to drive innovation but few actually do. If you want to be one of the few and you’ve got a question, ask Cris on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.crisbeswick.com for more information.