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An innovative organization

Many organizations would like to be more innovative. Some try to organize workshops; others may set up an innovation lab. A number of companies have created positions such as chief innovation officer. Still others have tried to implement the likes of 20% time and semblances of the Yes Culture.

Implementation of any of these tactics in isolation will not be enough. An innovative organization needs to have the right environment, supporting systems, structure and tools besides people sharing the same vision. Innovation is not an act but is the culture of the organization. Culture is the way things are done when no one is checking. As Professor Geert Hofstede said, an organization's culture is like an onion with multiple layers, and as each layer is peeled back, another layer is exposed. Real innovation should exist at every layer of the organizational onion, from symbols, to heroes, to rituals and finally to the values of the organization. To engender real innovation, organizations need visible signs that all staff can see to reinforce the importance of innovation, a champion should be appointed to lead the cause, and to ensure that the function and its outputs are a key part of and embedded into the company's routine management cycles of reporting and practices. Proper resources need to be allocated while both small and big wins are celebrated and pains are shared so that being innovative becomes an unconscious competence incorporated into the values of the company.

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