September 21

Six Steps to Building a Culture of Innovation

In my recent article, innovating cultural transformations, I explored the way in which the ability to create lasting and positive results from cultural transformation depends on structure and planning. It’s a theme which comes up time and time again when we talk to business leaders about setting a culture of innovation at the heart of the organisation.

With this in mind let’s take a look at the six steps towards building a culture of innovation which forms the basis of our forthcoming book*.

Step 1: Kick off with why. You may be one of the growing number who respond to surveys by listing the adoption of innovation culture as a key game changer but do you really know what innovation means in today’s marketplace? More importantly, do you know what adopting a culture of innovation will entail for your organisation? Taking time at the outset to develop an understanding of the nature of innovation culture, your current level of innovation maturity and to build the case for change will provide a firm foundation for your cultural transformation.

Step 2: Assemble a team. No one individual can influence the organisation to such an extent that it will embrace cultural change and this is particularly true when it comes to a culture of innovation. When you are looking for new pathways and attitudes, when you are looking for collaboration and agility then it makes sense to promote the idea of innovation teamwork from the start. Building an innovation leadership team and internal change team early in the process will help to promote the idea of culture change throughout the organisation.

Step 3: Agree the future. It may feel good to just step boldly towards innovation by ‘doing stuff’ but unless your actions are based on an in-depth knowledge of the existing state of the business and are designed to move the organisation towards a defined goal then your transformation is likely to falter at the first hurdle. So have the conversation and agree the strategy, values, beliefs and behaviours which will enable your business and its people to move towards the adoption of a culture of innovation.

Step 4: Engage in conversation. Once you’ve started the conversation, don’t stop simply because the strategy has been agreed. Communicate and share the background, ideals, vision and values as you work to engage employees and third parties in your new culture. A culture of innovation is not simply a new set of behaviours, which have been imposed from the top; rather it is a living transformation which will affect all areas of your business; The better the communication, the greater the chance of success.

Step 5: Create a roadmap. By following the previous steps you will have developed an understanding of where your organisation currently stands and where you want it to be. Creating a roadmap to change will not only help to define the steps required for transformation but will also help you to identify and circumnavigate potential roadblocks along the way. Quick wins can also be designed in to the process to help to generate enthusiasm and positivity.

Step 6: Make it happen. You’ve done all the identification, planning and engagement work. Now it’s time to make it happen, to take the steps necessary to embed a culture of innovation within your organisation in such a way that innovation becomes an ongoing driver of change and deliverer of game-changing excellence.

* ‘Building a Culture of Innovation – A Practical Framework for Placing Innovation at the Core of Your Business’ Written by Cris Beswick, Derek Bishop and Jo Geraghty. Published 3rd December 2015, available for pre-order now.


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