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Build a Culture of Innovation in the Enterprise

Posted by Mark Hemmer on 6/19/17 10:00 AM
Mark Hemmer

cultureofinnovation.jpgIt isn't easy for innovation to break through in the enterprise. Tradition stands tall and executives cling to once-successful strategies until the company sinks. But, if the enterprise wants sustained future success, it has to embrace innovation. Now. 

Technology has enabled exponential growth. The days of doing the same thing and expecting to remain on top are over. Longstanding business models are in dire straits due to technology. As technology (like the ability to buy goods online) becomes more ubiquitous, more industry giants will start to feel the pressure. To survive, it will take a shift in strategy and some truly innovative ideas. The time to uncover those ideas is now, before the upstart is able to.

So, the writing is clearly on the wall (or in the newspaper, on the chyron, and in hush-hush internal memos). But, how can the enterprise go about innovating? For starters, the enterprise needs to build a culture of innovation inside its walls. Great ideas often go unheard because they don't fit the enterprise status quo. The goal of the enterprise should be to transform its culture, so that those ideas come forth naturally. The enterprise needs to make clear that innovation is the main focus moving forward. Normal operations can continue, but there needs to be a deliberate push for what's next. 

Here are few signs that you're building an innovative culture: 


"Failure" isn't the End of an Idea 

One misconception that stifles innovative ideas is that failure is an endpoint. It shouldn't be. Failure is a step in the process of innovation. Instead of declaring that any sign of traditional failure is the end, the enterprise should encourage process over results. If innovation process is followed consistently, results will come. Cutting ideas short at failure does it a disservice. Failure should signal that something needs to be tweaked - not thrown out entirely. 

Think Outside the Cubicle

The enterprise thrives on hierarchy and roles. The 'cog in the machine' approach isn't necessarily meant as an insult. Many of the machines are well-oiled, humming along, and rely on employees to fill one specific role. But, that approach can hamper innovation. Innovation can thrive on ideas that come from unlikely places. If the enterprise keeps its talent in cubicles, with few opportunities for collaboration, it might be keeping great ideas in the dark.  

The Bigger the Idea, the Better

Big ideas should be championed. It's too easy, within the enterprise, to offer up small tweaks or suggestions, to protect egos and to avoid rocking the boat. But, maybe the boat needs to be capsized. Maybe it needs to have wings affixed to its sides so it can both swim and fly. Maybe it's time to jump ship entirely and get into the submarine business. Whatever the challenge, the biggest ideas need to be heard. One of them could be what saves the enterprise. 

It's time for innovation to become the rule in the enterprise. That starts with building an innovative culture. The enterprise can start with the changes above and soon build a culture that ensures future success. 


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