Top Management's Role in Driving Innovation Culture

Research shows that 84% of executives confirm that innovation is important to their growth strategy. However, a successful innovation culture doesn’t just occur by chance. It needs to be a defined strategy in which, unsurprisingly, top management has a huge role to play.

Business leaders and top management executives must showcase an in-depth understanding of what an innovation culture is as well as how to cultivate it sustainably. Let’s take a look at some of their key responsibilities in the process of driving company-wide innovation.

Top management must lead by example

Even when implementing a bottom-up approach to innovation, as Swisscom has done, employees will look to top management for inspiration. Therefore, one of the first things that leaders must do is be prepared to explore new ideas themselves. Working on innovation is a great starting point, but it should also extend to a mindset change.

Apple founder Steve Jobs believed that ‘conventional management stifled innovation’. In order to actively encourage innovation, management should be eager to embrace new tools, tactics, and technologies to keep pace with changing business landscapes. If nothing else, an adaptive company culture will increase the levels of trust and inspiration from the employees. In turn, this will keep innovation moving in the right direction.


Top management must set clear objectives

Innovation should encourage all employees to be creative. However, contextuality is the most important issue when analyzing employee-driven innovation. After all, even a great idea won’t work if it does not relate to the core business model. Top management must ensure that employees are connected to the company’s ethos and ideologies.

Corporate innovation is defined by Forbes as “having out-of-the-box thinking as a strategy within your business”. Setting clear objectives can stop employees working on irrelevant concepts, thus allowing them to dedicate their time to ideas that may succeed. When coupled with a defined strategy that looks into the viability, feasibility, and desirability levels, it should be far easier for employees and organizations to identify successes.


Top management must encourage intrapreneurship

For innovation to truly work, a company-wide buy-in will be required. It is the responsibility of top management to make innovation feel accessible for employees at all levels. Implenia is a great example of how this can lead to more ideas being presented through bottom-up innovation. If they aren’t engaged or given a voice, employees will hold back.

Encouraging intrapreneurship is a key aspect of building an adaptive company culture. Cultivating an atmosphere where employees gain psychological safety is another vital factor. Even the creators of Angry Birds had 50 failures before striking gold. Promoting intrapreneurship that accepts failure and encourages users to keep creating despite  a failed idea will enable the organization to identify more successes in the long run.


Top management must facilitate data-led innovation

While innovation stems from creative mindsets, data plays an increasingly important role in today’s climate. This is epitomized by the fact that 30% of organizations now actively want to embrace AI and its ability to aid innovation strategy, product development speeds, and project cost-efficiency. Data-driven decisions aid employees and organizations alike.

The use of data-driven innovation should not be limited to analyzing concepts. It can also instil a set of practices that provide a defined pathway for employees to follow when developing their ideas. Furthermore, it means that failures can become a part of the learning curve, feeding into an iterative approach that is often required to achieve  successful innovations.


Top management must implement the tools to bring it together

It’s one thing to understand the theoretical side of supporting innovation, but you also need the tools to drive it as a vehicle. Stats show that 62% of high-growth companies plan to invest in technologies that lead to higher rates of innovation. KICKBOX is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal.

The employee innovation program can facilitate a truly coordinated, bottom-up innovation strategy that enables employees to take a raw idea to a successful implementation by utilizing a defined pathway to unlock its most logical conclusion.

To learn more about KICKBOX and how it can transform your organization’s approach to innovation, reach out to arrange a demo today.

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