Open Innovation From A Practitioner's Perspective


Six Ideas To Drive Culture Change In Innovation

Ask any innovation consultant or innovation employee within a company and they’ll both agree that long-lasting success in new models for innovation boils down to one key issue: changing the corporate culture to embrace these new approaches.Without culture change you will not achieve long-term success. You may have an occasional win here and there, or an occasional breakthrough may occur but this is not the same as a sustainable, permanent change in your “business model” for innovation.




With than in mind, we did an informal survey of recommendations from several sources, added some of our own ideas, and compiled our list of top six recommendations:

1) Build Collaboration into Your Employee Evaluation System (source: Business Week and 3M)


From the BW article: “Reward employees not just for developing an innovative technology, idea, or process, but for spreading it. No company reaps the benefits of collaboration if their employees or managers are hoarding innovation in order to look good at the next quarterly meeting.”

2) Create Innovation Funds (source: Business Week and 3M)

As stated in the article, “Managers focused on core-related projects often don’t want to spend money exploring or developing innovative ideas. To overcome this common roadblock, companies should create an alternative source—3M calls these Genesis Grants—that employees can go to for funding of innovation projects that don’t fit neatly into existing departments.”

3) Innovation Events need to be part of an Overall Strategy

While contests and prize-based challenges can be important elements of an innovation strategy, these should not be your only focus. Look for ways to develop ongoing innovation activities such as allowing employees to dedicate a certain % of their time to unstructured thought and creative thinking. All innovation activities must be conducted in the context of an ongoing innovation strategy.

4) Encourage Risk Taking

While this is nothing new, what is needed are fresh approaches to encourage risk taking. One idea is to have employees share failures internally in order to learn from (and accept) unsuccessful projects. This can go a long way to developing a culture that encourages (and does not punish) risk-taking. Intel calls their approach Failing Forward.

5) Look Inside the Company First

Too often companies rush to drive external innovation without first considering whether they have fully exhausted all internal sources. Turning your innovation strategy inward (as a starting point) will not only ensure you have uncovered all possible internal sources of innovation but it helps companies practice the necessary skills that will serve them well when they go external – skills such as framing the right question, learning to collaborate, and driving transparency in the organization.

6) Top Management Must Show Support

Senior leadership must not only talk the talk, but they need to walk it too. And how can they walk it? By developing and communicating a clear strategy on what steps they are going to take to support new approaches to innovation. They could start with steps 1-5 outlined here.


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