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Culture of open innovation

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How important is a culture of open innovation for a company?

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Building a corporate culture of open innovation is a continuous process that develops gradually over time and requires clearly-defined goals. An organisation with a strong culture can easily implement changes and engage their employees in all processes.

Efforts in areas like executive visibility and championing innovative efforts start to create a shift. The leadership team is the one that needs to communicate the importance of innovation as a company priority, and visibly support and share new ideas. A shift to a culture of open innovation happens when all employees believe their ideas and suggestions are listened to. Everything from executive visibility to employee suggestion programs has to foster a cultural change. Setting clear, realistic and challenging goals will motivate staff. A reward and recognition policy will motivate employees, recognising individuals or teams that have contributed most implemented ideas. Providing incentives for participation in idea generation campaigns involves staff more in the innovation process.

A common problem with corporate culture is the fact that ideas mainly from the top management are valued and appreciated. Without a process or system to manage ideas, they often get lost and forgotten about – left to fall into a “black hole” where ideas go to die.  A competitive and strong company should encourage all employees, from interns to managers, to contribute ideas. Companies risk stagnation if a new idea or company suggestion always comes from the same people. Idea submission and collaboration should be sought from everyone in an organisation, regardless of hierarchy.

Holding ideas sessions and using innovation software are the ideal ways to involve everyone in the idea management process and make them aware of the company`s mission. However, ideas sessions can be time consuming, often involve departments separately and sometimes cause conflicts of interest. A more effective option is the deployment of an innovation management tool.

While Idea software can be a useful tool to aid a shift to a culture of open innovation, it cannot change the culture on its own. It is crucial that employees feel empowered and valued.