Values and culture of Innovation: Instilling the right principles

Article 2 - 1 May 2013Changes to the corporate culture may be necessary to improve a company’s innovation capacity. A culture that encourages innovation includes values of risk taking, challenging the status quo, and freedom of expression.

Employees should be expected to generate ideas for improving all aspects of the business and believe that their ideas are welcome and valued. When companies achieve this state, they can establish the critical mass necessary to sustain a process of continuous innovation.

Senior executives of innovative companies say building capacity for innovation involves refocusing existing leadership competencies toward innovation rather than developing new skills. This process puts more emphasis on values than on capabilities. Nonetheless, existing leadership-development systems can be ideal tools for instilling cultural values while building related competencies. Participation of the CEO or other senior executives in leadership-development events is the most effective vehicle for instilling cultural values, according to several of those interviewed.

Communicating the innovation process is also critical to instilling corporate values. Specifically, executives interviewed pointed to three key communication needs: instilling corporate values that encourage innovation across the organization; focusing idea generation in areas where the company is most likely to act; and maintaining the transparency of the idea pipeline and providing systematic feedback so the originators of ideas not acted on don’t disengage.

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