Culture First, Innovation Second: 3 Tips to Better Work Culture

image curtesy of chris meller via flickr
image courtesy of chris meller via flickr

Every organization that looks to build a sustained innovation program has to develop an in-house innovation methodology, adopt innovation software, and build a great team, but it also has to create a culture of innovation designed to get the results that they’re looking for. And it’s no surprise that companies with a poor culture, generate poor results. The sad fact of the matter is that 70% of all organizational change efforts fail.

So savvy innovation leaders sometimes begin by building a better innovation culture. They design better methods of communication, better workplace policies, and new modes of collaboration. If you’re someone who’s looking to impact innovation culture, here are three ways to get started:

Build in Time for Free Play:
Great ideas always seem to come at the oddest times, brushing your teeth, driving in the car, taking a jog. Everyone likes to point out that some of the market leaders are doing just this. 3M and Google offered their employees that celebrated “20% Time” to try out new ideas outside of their job description. This freedom of schedule allows for more elastic thinking and a broader team mentality.

Give up Rewards:
When we really take a look at what motivates creative individuals, we see the research tells us to get away from carrots and sticks – rewards and punishments. While these concepts “work,” it isn’t in the way you’d think.  To truly create a culture of innovation research tells us: skip the gimmicks and move towards needs-based cultures.  Author Dan Pink laid out the three needs to focus on in his book, Drive: The Truth About What Motivates Us. When we focus on Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose employees have the freedom to do great work and the support and skills to maintain it. Meaningful work requires internal rather than external motivation.

Train Team Members to Communicate More Effectively:
Participating in open innovation requires at least a modicum of trust from participants: trust in the program, trust in the administrators, trust in the rest of the community. Much of this trust is generated by the way the community perceives those participants, based on how they communicate. Working to communicate empathically and build that language into the workplace is important.

IdeaScale knows that one of the largest hurdles to overcome in building an innovative culture is managing communication. That’s why IdeaScale is offering a complimentary webinar about Creating a Culture of Innovation that is focused on communication strategies for innovators. Register for our August 27th webinar here.

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