February 16, 2023

Unlock your innovation: How to create a culture of innovation in 4 steps

February 16, 2023

When you hear big company names like Apple, Google, and IKEA, you can't help but picture their sleek products and groundbreaking designs. As customers, we're used to seeing this, but as innovators, we can't help but wonder how our organizations can achieve that same level of creativity.

How do you live and breathe innovation into your culture like them?

Here's our 4-step process for creating an innovative culture

1. Define what innovation means for you in a concrete way 

The first step is to define what innovation means to your company. 

Some of you may be thinking, "I already did this! I have this big, bold vision statement on our walls that says we will create a great product!"  

Having a vision statement is a good start, but vision statements tend to be abstract and full of adjectives that leave people blank and confused.  

Innovation itself is an abstract concept, and when you ask your team to be innovative, they may not understand you because they lack a concrete picture of what you mean. 

So, on top of your vision statement, it's good to provide a specific example. Instead of just saying, "Create a great product," You can get into the details, "Create a new product that will help public servants work faster, smarter, and better." 

Every time your team thinks of how they can be innovative, they now have a specific path to take. 

2. Establish routines and processes

Building an innovative culture needs more than words. Now that you've defined what innovation means for your company, it's your job to create intentional processes and routines to help your employees practice this innovative mindset. 

We don't just mean the usual brainstorming sessions or giving them resources on creativity. But intentional processes that are unique to your goal. 

For example, if innovation for you means helping those in public service, what are intentional processes you can do for this goal? 

Can your team talk with public servants and try to get to know them more? Can you share the latest news in public service before the start of your monthly company meetings? Can your team roleplay different public service scenarios? 

These planned processes are meant to not only get the creativity of your organization going but also to get your team to re-commit to your goal of innovation over and over again. 

So, pause for a minute, and think deeply about what these routines can be for you and your team.

3. Implement these routines from top-down

The enemy of innovation is a lack of execution. You can create a concrete example of innovation and specific routines to encourage this culture, but if you don't implement this, your culture of innovation is not happening. 

Implementation is key, and who should be the key holder? Of course, leadership. 

More than giving the green light, those in leadership roles must do the plans themselves. 

If your manager approves a plan to share the latest public service news before the start of every team meeting, but their team doesn't do it because they can't seem to fit it into the schedule, you can expect that everyone else will stop. 

It's true what they say that employees are looking for their leaders to, well, lead, especially during execution. 

So, go beyond the green light. Make sure that your leaders are actually leading this culture of innovation by taking action. 

4. Improve and improve some more 

Creating a culture of innovation isn't just one plan or one timeline. It's a journey with a lot of different versions and a lot of changes in between. 

You may find that some of your routines need to change as your organization gets bigger, or maybe some of your original plans weren't made for the setup of your team now. 

It's okay to change course and improve your plans. Just make sure that every change you make comes from actual feedback from your organization. 

Improving your culture of innovation shouldn't be done out of a random thought. Instead, it should be grounded on actual learnings from your people that practiced this culture and saw some gaps. 

This means getting feedback is crucial for creating a culture of innovation. So, make sure to ask for feedback often and ask for it a lot. 

Once you get your feedback, you start the process over again. You define and make sure that everyone understands in a concrete way what innovations mean for the organization. You establish new routines or processes or improve upon existing ones. You implement these changes, especially at a leadership level, and then ask for feedback so you can improve more. 

Creating a culture of innovation requires time, effort, and commitment. Is it worth it? Go back to the companies you idolize and see their amazing products and services. 

Those products and services are the fruits of an innovative culture. So, yes, we would like to say it's worth it. 

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