Tips for building a culture of innovation


Organizations remain competitive by continually improving performance in business-critical ways. That’s why disruptive technologies such as the internet, wireless networking, mobile devices, and automation are invaluable: They allow enterprises to do something dramatically better than they were doing it before, such as making it easy for consumers to purchase goods and services without visiting a store, providing coordinated, cross-platform customer service, streamlining supply-chain processes, and improving lead generation.

But emerging technologies by themselves can’t transform an organization. Their use must be optimized, and that involves a lot more than handing out tablets and subscribing to Slack Plus — it means an effective change management plan, training, reskilling, and setting policies and procedures.

Most important of all, getting the most strategic value out of emerging technologies requires a culture of innovation, a widespread ability among employees to envision how digital tools such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual assistants, and augmented reality (AR) can be leveraged to increase productivity, enhance collaboration, and reduce costs.

LEAD Innovation Management, a consultancy based in Vienna, lists seven ways enterprises can nurture a culture of innovation. Here are three that caught my eye:

Communicate the innovation strategy

Sounds obvious, but it’s absolutely critical that enterprise leaders clearly communicate the strategic goals and expectations of innovation. That means decision-makers need to be on the same page before debriefing employees across the enterprise. And that’s another thing: The innovation strategy must be communicated across all departments and employee levels.

Innovation crash courses

It’s a good idea to show employees what you have in mind when you’re asking them to innovate. “Being creative and innovative also requires information and skills,” writes Angela Hengsberger, LEAD’s head of business development.

Innovation awards

Who doesn’t love being rewarded? It’s a timeless motivator! When individuals or teams are recognized for outstanding work, it can spur them and all other employees to intensify their innovation efforts. As Hengsberger notes, public recognition from the organization is the greatest award of all for employees. Gift cards aren’t bad either.


There are a number of other steps enterprise leaders can take to develop a culture of innovation, but the three above cover some essential territory: Communicate a vision, educate and train, reward successful outcomes. Do those effectively, and enterprises can turn innovation into a habit.

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