Innovation thrives in a culture of cultures
Innovation as a business concept has many definitions. At its core, the central theme of innovation is the successful delivery of an idea that brings positive value to a company and its customers. However, where there is a large diversity of thought when it comes to the subject, is how to successfully build a “culture of innovation”.
Is it implementing new processes? Is it investing in collaboration technologies and services? Is it ensuring employees have the freedom to fail? Is it setting up innovation labs? Or is it the CEO purely stating the company will now “innovate”?
There is no silver bullet and most of the above can be parts of a greater strategy to foster a culture of innovation. (Side note – leadership is critical but it is an ongoing commitment, not a singular sermon from above.) But like so many things in business, innovation starts with the makeup of the people within a business.
Innovation starts with people coming up with great ideas. The nature, quality and quantity of these ideas can be impacted by multiple factors – the underlying company culture, access to technology and resources, the ever-important factor of time to ideate amongst many others – but always comes back to the source, which is people.
With the starting point being people, what is the best strategy of ensuring that the initial idea factory of business is in the best position to drive a culture and output of innovation? The quantity and quality of ideas are most positively impacted by a diversity of thought and this is achieved through the diversity of your people.
Focusing on evolving the diversity of the people within your business across all the usual factors of demographics, education and experience will organically diversify and strengthen the ideation process. This allows your people to bring their exposure from different cultures that they have experienced throughout their personal and professional lives.
However, that is just one part of it. It is arguably even more important to ensure within any ideation process, session or project to bring in people from multiple disciplines even if their roles and/or expertise don’t naturally fit. A technology-focused ideation project for an app-based development team may not seem like the place for the brand marketing intern to come up with an amazing idea or feature. Through their experience as a frequent app user who spent six months travelling through Europe before starting their role, for example, will give them a far different perspective. This will allow them to provide an insight that a room of app developers would probably never come up with, but those developers than then use their expertise to take the idea and make it the next major feature release.
You can interchange “brand marketing intern” with anyone within a business as ideas don’t come from a qualification but a lifetime of experiences unique to each person. The more diverse those experiences and exposure to varied cultures only widens the scope of thinking within a team.
So when thinking of how to create a culture of innovation that thrives, start with your people, create an environment to foster thinking, give them the time and the tools to create, look at the cultures they have experienced and always expand the diversity of these cultures to foster a successful one unique to your business.