According to Merriam-Webster innovation is “a new idea, creative thoughts, new imaginations in form of device or method”. While organizational culture can be defined as “the values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization.” So Innovation culture is “nurturing an environment that continually introduces new ideas or ways of thinking, then translates them into action to solve specific problems or seize new opportunities.” However, each organization develops a common definition of what the innovation context of its work is. The culture of innovation is characterized by: focus on innovation, creativity, change, introduction of new products, tendency to take risks and work after hours, dominance of informal and direct contacts, uncontrollable costs may occur, problems with development, chaos.
The elements of an innovative culture
The elements of an innovative culture are: people, trust and commitment, wide-ranging exploration and ambitious ideas, agnostic technology and approach, connected isolation, finances, timeframes of divergence and convergence, prototyping - doing vs. talking, risk and failure. Important methods of innovation are: creative brainstorming, effective team building, incredibly fast prototyping and deep technological knowledge. Above everything else, the intensity of people's passion for innovation is the origin of processes. The culture of business must support and cherish it above all else.
Factors driving innovation culture
- Leadership- clearly developing vision, purpose, permission, routine, urgency, trade-offs, and humility entails positive leadership
- Communication- messages should be clear, framed, championed, engaging, transparent, and frequent in order to communicate effectively
- Resource Allocation- organizations must invest adequately in professional development so that their teams are prepared to innovate, allocate enough time to innovation teams and spend money on them
- Structure& Process- lightweight structures that are deliberately designed to support and enable continuous innovation, clear and consistent processes for promoting, supporting and rewarding innovation and the habit of continuous innovation is what organizations need
- Capacity- "Growth mindset" is what teams must elaborate because it develops tolerance for risk, gains adequate knowledge and skills needed for implementing innovations effectively
- Policy Environment- policy makers need to create an environment in which innovation works actively by promoting, supporting and rewarding risk taking
- Learning Agenda- leaders need to develop testable standards for identifying and overcoming barriers to innovation, immediately testing new ideas in a small group to allow quick and practical feedback, measure results in a way that gives a clear sense of whether goals are being achieved or not.
Ways to develop an innovative organizational culture
- Selection of innovative employees- appropriate selection of employees who are open to change and innovatively generate and implement ideas
- Training for creativity and innovation- encouraging training in the development and evaluation of innovation, organizing trainings conducive to the development of innovation and generating ideas
- Allowing risk taking- promoting learning from practice, applying risk assessment techniques while accepting generation and implementation of ideas
- Creativity as a requirement and a work norm- ensuring that innovation is required, including innovation in career development and performance evaluation
- Having appropriate reward systems for innovation- encouraging recognition for innovation (not only in the form of money)
- Investing in research and development- inclusion of the Research and Development department in the innovation process, promoting research in the Research and Development department of the society and cooperation with other functional areas of the organization
- Benchmarking- supporting benchmarking practices, use of various types of benchmarking in order to generate the most effective practices.
- Merriam-Webster Innovation. Merriam-webster.com.
- Organizational Culture Business Dictionary, businessdictionary.com
- Lisa Duty and Todd Kern (2014): So you think you want to Innovate? Emerging Lessons and a New Tool for State and District Leaders Working to Build a Culture of Innovation
- Peters T. J. (1993): Management Decision, „Business Policy in Action”, vol. 31, no 6
- Research project: Developing an innovation culture: implications from reaserch
- Simosko N. In pursuit of innovation