Innovation has always been considered a key element in the success of any business. Even in the midst of challenging circumstances such as a pandemic and inflation, innovation has proven to have helped businesses not only survive but also thrive.
However, innovation is not something that can be accomplished overnight. Rather, innovation requires a great deal of cultural shift within the organization in which people share the same level of passion towards conceiving ingenious and groundbreaking ideas and collectively work towards bringing these ideas to life.
The question now becomes…how can an organization create a culture of innovation?
Prioritize time for experimentation
Innovation is characterized by a lot of experimentation. It is important that businesses take time to try something new and learn from those experiences, positive or otherwise. If the experimentation leads to a positive development, pivot immediately and scale as needed.
Company leaders can also establish a dedicated team of people whose main task is to explore emerging technologies, run experiments, and identify business applicability.
As technologies advance at an exponential pace, CIOs should prioritize time for strategic and innovative thinking.
Innovation is a double-edged sword in which it provides great rewards if efforts are successful as well as great risk for failure if things do not turn out as hoped. If a company wants to achieve growth by becoming an innovative organization, it must learn not only to accept but embrace failure as part of the journey towards that growth.
As such, people should not be afraid to fail. For every idea that does not pan out, what is important is to learn from mistakes. Also, take time to occasionally revisit those failed ideas Sometimes the business is not ready for an idea right now but will be in the future.
But it goes without saying that in order to have an attitude to embrace failure, leaders should foster an attitude of trust and perseverance, especially in the midst of setbacks, criticism, and uncertainty without the fear of reprisal so people in the organization are able to find the courage to risk failure in pursuit of creative ambition.”
Recognize the people
It is easy to forget that more than the technologies, it is the people that drive innovation within the organization. People in the IT department especially are uniquely positioned to see the big picture of what is occurring across the business and identify opportunities for innovation. And for this, IT leaders must go out of their way and engage in frank conversations with stakeholders across the organization to know what aspects are they facing challenges and break these challenges down in a way to see if technology can address some these detailed challenges.
As such, it is important that the company should at those who are engaging with IT should as assets not only because they are willing to invest time outside of their traditional job function, but also because they can act as champions who will help push comprehension and adoption throughout the business.
CIOs must encourage people within the company to be passionate about problem-solving, which is at the heart of innovation, echoes Marchand. “And they have to encourage people to have unbridled curiosity. This is how they get innovation to flourish.”
Innovation is something that not only benefits the business but also its clients and customers. So it is important that customers also experience the innovations being implemented by the business.
Just as important, businesses should take into account the feedback of their customers with regard to the innovations being implemented. Critical feedback is especially needed to be taken into account in order to deliver a more improved experience overall.
Promote quick wins
While it’s important to think for the long term and be able to address the bigger problems, aiming for and showcasing quick wins is equally important. While it can be understood that innovation takes time to have its effects felt, it is important for people to have some semblance of progress to be able to gain assurance that things are moving forward.
For this, the overall innovation process needs to be broken down into smaller chunks which helps people become more familiar with that process.
Broaden the partner scope
Partnerships are important in fostering an innovation culture as these lead to new technologies and processes being introduced that ultimately benefit the organization. And if a company hopes to attain success as an innovative business, it has to build partnerships with a variety of businesses, regardless of size and even industry.
There are numerous examples of companies that were able to successfully introduce innovative solutions through unique partnerships. Such partnerships not only bring new capabilities to the organization but it helps shape new ways of thinking and working which fosters a spirit of innovation.
Building a culture of innovation is not easy. But by establishing and fostering the right mentality and attitudes within the organization, innovation will come as second nature to the people and will become the key drivers towards the company’s goal towards being an innovative organization.