How to Create an Innovation Culture

In 2024, many businesses continue to find themselves adrift in the “war for talent.” The “war for talent” is a phrase coined by McKinsey & Co in the late 1990s. It refers to the ultra-competitive hiring landscape recruiters face when they need to fill a new role. As a result of these conditions, turnover rates are high⁠—even in the most successful enterprises.

Accordingly, innovation culture in organizations can be tough to establish! The big question is “How can my business make innovation a part of the company-wide DNA?".

Here is everything that Innovation Managers, need to know about building an innovation culture in the modern workplace.


What Does a Culture of Innovation in Organizations Look Like?

We’ll start with the basics. What are the two most important characteristics of innovation culture in organizations?

1. Decentralization

The most successful form of innovation is open innovation. Open innovation is defined by its inclusivity. It honors concepts like crowd wisdom, highlighting the value of distributed knowledge over individual expertise. Decentralization encourages collaboration and boosts employee engagement⁠—two of the essential elements of innovation.

2. Tech savviness

In the modern business world, you can’t skimp out on technology. Business intelligence (BI) tools have revolutionized the way companies operate. For example, communication platforms like Slack and Zoom make it possible to coordinate projects and facilitate collaboration without ever meeting face-to-face. Innovation programs require supportive technology, too, like idea management and execution software. And let's face it. Zoom got us through some pretty tough times in 2020 as well. 


How Culture Affects Innovation in an Organization

According to a workplace study by the ADP Research Institute, workers who have established a connection with their employer are 75% more likely to be engaged than those who have not. This is an important statistic to be aware of because the only employees who will participate in your innovation program will be those who are engaged. When appropriately implemented, innovation programs should be motivating and fun. They stimulate the type of out-of-the-box thinking that innovation needs to thrive. 

Organization members must be incentivized to participate through employee rewards, friendly competition, or career advancement opportunities. Without a solid company culture, your innovation program could disappear faster than snacks in the rready break room. The culture of innovation in organizations also contributes positively to employee retention. Employees who feel valued and involved with their employer are less likely to leave, thus saving you from being thrust into the war for talent.

How Do You Create a Culture of Innovation?

Before you launch any culture-targeted initiatives, it’s crucial to examine your current workplace climate. Are employees generally happy with their working conditions? Do they feel overworked, or are they supported enough to participate in innovation challenges?  Let's have a look at how you can cultivate an innovation culture below.


1. Make Innovation A 24/7 Goal

Most companies say that they want to be innovative, but then limit their hopes of success by restricting innovation to set moments within the working week. For innovation to truly work, you must cultivate a culture based on flexibility. Encouraging unstructured exploration time, like Atlassian's ShipIt Days, can be a great way to promote innovation and risk-taking at all levels.

It is shown that the most successful companies in the future will be those that have a full buy-in. However, innovation must be cultivated and celebrated within the context of your brand story. A clear mission statement allows the team to innovate at all times.

2. Take A Multifaceted Approach

Innovation works best when you have a multifaceted approach. Focusing on the four Ps of policies, processes, products, profits should guide your teams.

As well as internal collaborations, a multifaceted approach can benefit from collaborations with other firms and clients. For example, the My Starbucks idea rewarded consumers for serving up their ideas. It subsequently resulted in several innovation triumphs for the coffee giant. 

3. Empower Employees 

Studies show that 59% of company executives have doubts regarding the ability of their employees to innovate effectively. While recruiting intrapreneurs can help transform the culture within the company, it’s equally important to actively give your team the tools needed to thrive and make innovation a reality. 

4. Learn From Past Mistakes

Up to 95% of product innovations fail. So, you must focus on building a company culture where failure is accepted. Psychological safety will encourage teams to keep innovating. Crucially, it also allows you to actively learn from past mistakes so that they form steps on the road to success.

5. Create Feedback Loops

Communication sits at the heart of every successful business, not least when it comes to innovation. Feedback loops feed into the iterative approach and are especially effective when you have removed the fear of failure. It also provides clarity, which leads to happier and generally more productive employees .


Innovation Management Services With rready

Who’s better to ask than the experts? Innovation management services can either support your existing internal resources or provide you with the tools you need to get started. Generally, they fall into one of three categories—technology, methodology, or coaching/consulting. However, it’s possible to partner with an innovation management provider that encompasses all three. For instance, rready’s KICKBOX includes idea management software to manage innovation projects and facilitate teamwork. Alongside the technology, clients are provided with a physical toolkit for each employee. The toolkit contains:

  • A personalized roadmap of the innovation process.
  • An expert-level guidebook to get you started.
  • Motivational tools rooted in gamification for a cultural boost.

Establishing a culture of innovation in organizations is no small feat. Don’t sweat it. At rready we get it—and we’re here to help with every step of the way. Contact us or schedule a demo below to get started.

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