Do You Want an Innovative Organizational Culture?

Corporate Innovation Management
Knowledge Center


Edgar Cateriano Castello
Director, Peru

Do You Want an Innovative Organizational Culture?

In any organization, the formation of an innovative culture depends on its leaders. Their words and actions are crucial:

"In our company we are encouraged to openly share our thoughts. If these thoughts differ from one another, that's great, since possible results of a higher order may arise from this confrontation" said Akio Morita, founder of Sony.
When I think about how managers’ words and actions impact on their employees, it seems obvious to me the big challenges that culture building brings, which is in constant innovation. Just like children's behavior is a reflection of their parents, organizational culture is the echo of the expression of its managers. What are they telling - with or without words - to their colleagues?

"You do as I say, I didn’t create this company from scratch for nothing, keep it up and we/you will be fine."
For those who have heard statements like this, we are familiar with the behavior of those who foster a culture where is "convenient" to be, act and even think like them.
A work environment like this limits innovation. The manager, who imposes his ideas, dramatically inhibits the ideas of others. As a result, employees, in order to maintain their positions, assume that obedience is above all, even logic.

"The rules are the rules, and they are made to be applied, if you are unwilling to comply with them, be careful! We need order and control".
As the organization grows, it becomes more complex and bureaucratic. Therefore, an innovation – even if it is plausible – can be interpreted as counterproductive as it might change the status quo.
Here, the parameters and paradigms imposed are the bigger inhibitors. The rules may overshadow the slightest hint of leadership.

"You have to achieve your goals. Here, if you can fulfill them, you will be fine"
In a management based on a strict compliance with individual goals, work in silos intensifies, creating distances between people and teams, causing its results can be conflicting and/or duplicative.
Poorly designed goals may limit a collaborative working, characteristic of innovation. Some people will say: Why should I change that, if it does not meet my goals? Others will say: if we did our part it is fine, the rest is not our problem!

"We are recognized as one of the best companies. You must be proud to work here/with me."
When the company has reached leading positions, the sense of pride increase, which intensifies the ego of its employees. Hence, many of them feel or want to feel themselves as "a star". It is something that sustains so defeating beliefs, such as: is the customer who should adapt to what is sold, and not vice versa.
Individuality may overlap the team spirit, and innovation can occur only in isolation and/or fragmented, which will determine its discontinuity.

"We can go further, breaking preconceptions. We can eliminate paradigms and lead the change."
Here, horizontal organization over vertical is imposed; people are looking for self-realization in their work and team.
Leadership emerges in its real expression, as a promoter of continuous innovation focused on the market. Leaders encourage knowledge sharing, and they test, in real time, the "temperature" of the organization, acting quickly to drive or to "wake up" to a team that has been absorbed by the cold routine.

"We must transcend and make our products improve quality of life for people."
In this case, it is not important to make more money; the purpose is to transcend, to fulfill a higher mission.
Here, livenovation reaches its maximum cultural expression, as a promoter of creating shared value, for common good of society, and its sustainability. The leader emerges as a visionary in his organization can become an icon.

You, who have the responsibility of leading the cultural evolution of its organization, you have in your words and actions the possibility of shaping human groups living innovation or human groups surviving into apathy and constant frustration. Choose your words carefully.


More on Corporate Innovation Management:
Discussion Topics
🔥3 Types (Levels) of Innovation Leaders
Bottom-up Innovation and Top-down Innovation
👀Do You Want an Innovative Organizational Culture?
H2 Achieve Strategic Innovation? Pitfalls?
Caution with Outsiders in Organizational Innovation (Forget)
What is Innovation? Definitions
Special Interest Group

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