An excerpt from Cultural Brilliance™ Radio on Cultures of Innovation

Innovation is about continual change so it’s really a metamorphosis. When we look at organizations that innovate continuously and we have, of course, our great examples of Apple and Google and companies that we’re all familiar with, we see that they are consistently changing whether it’s the products they’re putting out or their own internal culture. They have this level of creativity and this level of risk-taking that really works for them and allows them to continue to transform over and over again and the rest of us benefit from their innovation.

One of the things that I’ve noticed about innovative cultures is that they tend to make a commitment to continuous learning which a lot of us are familiar with. The thing we don’t talk about as much though is in truly innovative cultures, the people in the organization and the culture itself tends to be fairly self-aware. So you’re not seeing a culture that might be asleep at the wheel, a culture that doesn’t understand itself, a culture that actually hurts people who work for it on a regular basis by not treating them well or being disrespectful to them.

A lot of times in organizations what we see is a decision like, “We’re going to have a couple of teams become innovative.” That’s great except that you can’t just ask a couple of teams to become innovative without looking at your entire culture; do we have a manager, a structure in place that allows for the flexibility needed for innovation? Do we have some financial resources tapped for this innovation?

Dynamics of Learning, Listening, & Risk Taking

If you’re not listening, it’s hard to know what step to take next or you’re going to miss really important information that someone might have. And in order to take risk, you need to be able to learn from the risk you’ve taken.

The culture of innovation really needs to be mindful of the temperament of the people and whether or not they want to even be innovative.

Checking with people to see if they want to be innovative because even within an innovative culture and  organizations, you’re still going to need people managing risks. You’re still going to need people managing finances and operations in some ways. People who like to maintain systems may be more conservative about things. They’re going to need to be the foundation of the organization from a structural standpoint.

So checking in with people to see who’s even interested in being innovative. Who thinks like that? Who wants to be more creative and take those risks? Who has the personality to align with that?

When you think about an innovative culture, I like to relate it to what I call brilliant cultures, and brilliant cultures are responsive to the needs of their people, their systems, and the external environment.

So in cultures that are innovative, we know they’re responding to their external environment because the external environment is buying their products and services most of the time. We know they’re responsive to their systems and I think at least fairly responsive to people. An innovative culture has an aspect of brilliance and responsiveness to it.

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