How do you create a culture for innovation?

I spend a lot of time talking with people about how they can foster a culture for innovation – how they can structure and align resources and support to encourage innovation in their team.  And I am regularly surprised at the lack of awareness or disregard for dealing with culture issues.

So when I came across Tom Agan’s CEOs as “innovation organizer” concept (HBR Blog: Can’t Find a Steve Jobs?  Hire an Innovation Organizer Instead) I was intrigued.  He claims that executives should serve as innovation organizers that create “environments ripe for innovation.” Makes sense to me, an exec’s job is not to do all the work, but to foster a space where the work can be done.  Right?

So if, you wanted to encourage an environment or culture supportive of innovation, what things could you consider?

1.What do you reward (with compensation, recognition, promotions, etc)?

  • no changes –  just follow the plan
  • small steps – things members ask for or other groups are offering
  • listening to member needs or market trends and developing new ideas
  • partnering with other groups on new ideas

2. Do you acknowledge what staff attempt to do (pilots or new activities)?  (It is a lot easier to do the same old thing than to develop a new way to try something.)

3. Does your team have the skills they need to innovate (facilitation, collaboration, decision making, etc)?

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