Innovation as a discipline – creating a culture

Article 1 - 16 May 2013Innovation is a choice, a strategy. Converting the desire into action requires an intentional initiative, systematically planned and organized like any other important management activity. At the same time, there are still many executives that consider innovation a peripheral or luxurious activity.

Innovation must be understood as a discipline in its double meaning. Discipline is a field of knowledge (like Finance Marketing or Six Sigma), which requires “discipline” or rigor in the approach. It is not magic but deliberate, it is systematic and with some degree of predictability. Unfortunately, our under-standing of innovation lags thirty years behind that of, for example, quality. The good news is that it can be learnt, practiced and fine-tuned with a rigorous approach through continuous experimentation.

Creating a culture of innovation in the company gives the CEOs an opportunity to exercise leadership, showing their desire with actions rather than with words only. Walk the talk. How much time is committed in their calendars to innovation or devoted to innovation in the Management Team meetings? What is the message that their Management Teams receive consistently from them? Then, how is this commitment communicated to the organization?

Many organizations approach innovation with the same left-brain elements as any other discipline, dedicating resources, processes and measures to track the progress. They are all needed, but not enough as they forget critical right-brain elements. The difference between success and failure of the innovation initiatives lies in having strong company values to create an environment that generates entrepreneurial behaviors.

Assessing the current situation in which the organization is at present under the perspective of these six left and right pillars will give the CEOs and the Management Team an understanding of the key gaps between the current and the desired situation, allowing them to first design and then implement the changes required to create the necessary culture of innovation amongst the people in the organization.

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