Getting innovation support: building the innovative culture
Shaping the culture for innovation is often mentioned to be one of the hardest things to do within organisations, as culture consists of many values, beliefs and (in)formal behaviours. The largest part of the organisation is tailored towards executing the day-to-day business, and as such, their behaviours also reflect that. People are resistant to change, because they know their tasks and their systems to work perfectly fine. However, an organisation’s innovation efforts brings new idea’s, knowledge, ways of working, new markets and new customers. As such, employees also need to change their behaviour and start to embrace the new future the organisation. Because, without getting people on board about innovation, the innovation efforts will not succeed as people will be reluctant to either work on or diffuse innovation.
To shape an innovation friendly culture, organisations need to understand how their current culture works, where points of influence can be found and how to develop leaders which are capable systematically influencing people through these points.
In any case, all organisations who are successful in shaping their innovative culture, recognize the importance of having agile leadership. Agile leaders in the sense that they can rapidly react to change and facilitate the diffusion of this change through the organisation by using their leadership skills and by engaging key stakeholders.
Influencing the organisation: three roles for leadership
First, leaders need to define the innovation vision; why do we need to innovate? What are our core competencies / favorable behaviors and how can we leverage these? These insights help to identify the elements which drive innovation in the organisation and allow leaders to create a system which leverages these competencies and behaviours to increase innovation success.
Second, leaders need to be aware of the formal and informal culture within the organisation. In the formal setting, leaders should create an environment where innovation is supported. Leaders should vocalise the possibilities of innovation and excite their employees, but also be open and honest about the uncertainty it brings. Leaders need to replace risk-aversive behaviour with risk-accepting, where people: ‘fail fast, but learn faster’.
On the other hand, the informal culture is just as important to stimulate the acceptance of innovation. Informal leaders need to be identified and engaged in the innovation process. Informal leaders are people in the organisation who might not have a formal position of power, but are people who can engage employees, listen to their concerns and who have a deep understanding of the entire organisation. By engaging these people in the innovation processes, social networks can be created which help the organisation’s acceptance and diffusion of innovative behaviour.
Third, a shared innovation dialogue needs to be developed to make the concept of innovation tangible and accessible for everyone. Creating a shared innovation dialogue, allows any employee to understand the importance of innovation and stimulates it regardless of position, top or bottom.
- Leadership: Is our leadership able to define the innovation vision and do they know how to leverage the core competencies for current and future innovations?
- (In)formal culture: How does the formal and informal culture influence the behaviour of people and how can you leverage this to build social networks?
- Untangling innovation: Is there a common dialogue within the organisation to stimulate wide-spread innovative thinking?
More of an auditory learner?
Listen to our podcast on Innovation Teams – by Angelique Plugge
Through our expertise and work with innovation leaders, we’ve recognized that these questions need to be answered in order to lay the foundation for an innovation culture.
Curious to know why that is? Read stories from:
Leadership: The impact of corporate identity on innovation
Dr. Prof. Justin Jansen, Professor of Corporate Entrepreneurship at the Rotterdam School of Management, talks about the relationship between corporate identity and achieving innovation success and elaborates on the role for leadership to successfully shape an innovative identity.
(In)formal culture: the importance of engaging people
Angelique Plugge, Former Innovation Driver at ING talks about the crucial role of innovation drivers in driving the innovative culture. Why do innovation drivers need to support (senior) management and how can leaders recognise helpful/unhelpful descriptors for innovation?
Lead the development of your organisation’s innovation culture
To help organisations develop their leadership skills, become able to leverage the (in)formal culture and build a common innovation dialogue, we’ve developed the Module 4: Developing A Culture for Innovation Excellence. The academic programme is specifically aimed towards innovation-professionals to allow them to take control of over the innovation culture within their organisation by combining the latest academic insights with best practices from industry leaders.
A glimpse of our current and past client portfolio:
Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship
The Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship is the leading centre for entrepreneurship in Europe with the mission to embed entrepreneurship into the DNA of people to drive innovation excellence. The Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship is part of the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University Rotterdam. The RSM belongs to the top 1% of business schools world-wide to be awarded the Triple Crown Accreditation, which is awarded by the three largest and most influential school accreditation organisations world-wide. (AACSB, AMBA, EQUIS).
We stimulate entrepreneurial behaviour by using the renowned faculty of the RSM to teach educational courses on Bachelor, Master and MBA level through our various open and customised programmes. Our executive programmes are tailored to helping large organisations increase their level of innovation excellence.