Delivering an innovation culture shift – the practical point of view

David LarkinsNews

Right intention, wrong execution. Working with a large enterprise began in the usual way: the Innovation Team in a room discussing their objectives. Early on, however, it was very clear that this journey would fall to the common pitfalls that intuitively seem like the correct answer, but, with more insight, quite clearly hinder the culture shift.

The Innovation Team felt it was their responsibility to own all steps of the process and therefore drive the change from a centralised team. It didn’t work. A lack of buy-in from the organisation and confusion about the relevance of the campaign led to reluctance from others to participate and a negative perception about the Innovation Team’s intentions – the cultural shift was stopped dead in its tracks. This all could have been avoided.

An innovative culture does not spontaneously emerge, organisations work hard to build one. As a Senior Onboarding Manager at Wazoku, I have overseen the delivery of innovation programmes throughout a wide range of organisational structures, sizes and industries. The question I get asked most is ‘how do we get this right?’ There are key components that can greatly impact your cultural change from the outset when well done.

The Team – The REAL driving force behind your cultural change

As with everything, a change in culture needs to begin somewhere. When starting a project, we normally look at creating teams around subject matter experts with direct experience in delivering the project at hand. However, when we look at changing a culture, are there really such things as experts? The team needed to create a cultural shift in your organisation is quite possibly the most important step in this journey. If you select a group of ‘experts’ to delegate tasks to your organisation, you will have the actions of your innovation strategy achieved quickly, but you may have missed the exact cultural change you are wanting in your first step. Find people around you who are genuinely enthused by the notion of a cultural change, from all levels of the organisation and job roles, as they will become the champions of the desired change who will organically spread the message – ’We are the culture of this business, this change is for us.’

The Strategy – What is KEY

Your cultural shift toward innovation will boom, it will be a huge success, and everyone will want to be a part of leading the way So, who manages this? A clear understanding of why you want your organisation to be more innovative is essential as this will determine your innovation campaigns. In addition, if you are not clear on what you are trying to achieve, then understanding what success looks like is almost impossible. Tied closely to the points made regarding the team, who ‘owns’ each area of your innovation strategy should be enthusiastic volunteers from all levels of the business. Engage them early in the design stage of the strategy; give them ownership over what they will be expected to deliver. Designing a task and forcing someone to be more innovative will not create the culture you desire. For example, discuss the challenges faced by the head of a department and understand, from their point of view, why these challenges exist. Then work with that person to develop an innovation initiative to overcome these challenges. By doing this, you have created a plan with clear ownership, buy-in and success criteria.

To read the full article, visit The Future Shapers

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