Innovative business cultures: starting at the individual level
Current dynamics and globalization have brought on companies that include innovation in their core values. A commitment for innovation is more and more often part of corporate culture and values. Companies emphasize hiring people through whom they can achieve innovation, more specifically, they are looking for those traits that are aligning with actual corporate values.
A basic principle within an innovative organization is each employee can be innovative. At the same time, most of them can be innovative in many different ways. This is due to the fact that some persons aim for big transformational change, others feel more comfortable when it comes to more incremental changes.
Personality traits can strongly influence the manner in which an employee defines raising problems within the work place. There are people able to quickly come up with ideas and develop numerous solutions. At the same time, other persons have the tendency to gravitate towards one or more particular phases of an innovation process. Taking all these aspects and possibilities into consideration it is easier to create diverse teams that are able to handle a wide range of arisen problems and develop innovative solutions proposals, meant to serve customers and, at the same time, their own organization.
There is not an unique successful method that will lead an organization to creating a culture of innovation. However, the challenge comes after establishing a method, in making it last in time, which, in turn, depends on understanding the internal climate. This internal climate is given by the employees, by their commitment and work place behaviors.
Two main directions can be identified for companies aiming to establish a culture of innovation:
- The first, in which a company selects employees that possess key traits like initiative and creativity from the very beginning. These key traits are milestones for operating innovatively. Through these, a company forms, encourages and rewards its employees for being innovative.
- The second option entails more efforts and investments for the company and always implies a higher risk of people not assimilating innovation within their value system.
After deciding on which approach to take, the company will go through a transition phase which structures behaviors, goals and people in order to facilitate innovation. Innovation does not represent just a project to implement. From research and development to human resources or customer service to financial operations, success relies on a permanent evaluation and encouragement. This freedom to act creatively should be seen as a daily responsibility.
Some leaders can be restrictive when it comes to innovation due to the fact that it implies a lot of unpredictable factors that can destabilize the business. The main difference between innovating and having a culture of innovation, is that people can be creative as well as act responsibly within the workplace. The culture of innovation is the milestone of a dynamic structure that aims for development and evolution in an organized manner.
- UNESCO Ministerial Breakfast (2013), Culture and innovation in the post-2015 development agenda
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (2003), The culture of innovation and the building of knowledge societies