Creating or changing a culture can't happen overnight. A culture is more a product of several smaller changes within your organization. If you've decided that your business needs to embrace innovation (it does) and you want your culture to match, it's going to take intentionality. By making a series of meaningful shifts to 'business as usual,' you'll be laying the groundwork that an innovative culture can be built upon.
What does that process look like? Here are 4 steps to get your business started:
Step 1: Call it Out
Say it. Say: "innovation." Say it during meetings. Say it first thing Monday morning, as people's eyes struggle to stay open. Say it during Happy Hour, when guards are down and receptivity is high. Declare it, even, that innovation is now a thing in your business. Hearing from leadership that the tenets of innovation (free exchange of ideas, failure as process, challenging conventions) are now both recognized and celebrated parts of the enterprise goes a long way.
Step 2: Tweak Policy
Start small. Without transforming your organization overnight (which won't happen), start slowly modernizing company policies. They might be small things - more flexible hours, an option to work from home - but they can have a big impact on how your employees and potential partners view your company and its culture. Allow the spirit of innovation to permeate the enterprise. As you scrutinize old policies, you may find that they don't fit based on logic alone.
Step 3: Make the Time
Make time. Sure, 'make the time,' is generic advice. It can be applied to romance, fitness, sleep habits, or cooking. But, in this case, it's all about innovation. If you don't make the time, it won't happen. In fact, you should dedicate time to engaging in ideation, creative thinking, or free-flowing ideas. Whatever you call it, make it clear that the innovation process has a place in your business. When given space and time to grow, an innovative culture can form organically.
Step 4: Act on It
Don't forget to act. As an innovative culture starts to emerge in the enterprise, it's important to act on it. That will look radically different in different companies, but there needs to be a clear step taken towards company change. That could be a new product that redefines your business. It could be a new company-wide policy that shakes up how business is done. Or, it could be a new operating procedure (like sabbaticals or transparent financials). Whatever it is, make sure you take action.
Any business that successfully cultivates an innovative culture will be better prepared to find forward-thinking solutions to its greatest challenges. Follow the steps above and get started on creating meaningful change in your business.