I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Chad McAllister recently for the Everyday Innovator Podcast on the topic of how an organization can become more innovative. Below you will find Chad’s summary of the Five Keys to Developing an Innovation Culture that I shared with him:
- Learn the basics of culture change, such as the 8-step Kotter change model or the Leading Change Formula. Braden is developing a Change Planning Toolkit™ based on his experience and research helping organizations change their culture to support innovation. We’ll discuss this in detail in a future interview when the Toolkit is available.
- Build a common language of innovation. Define what innovation means for the organization. Braden’s definition is that innovation transforms the useful seeds of invention into widely adopted solutions valued above every existing alternative. Then build vision, strategy, and goals for innovation. Finally, consider what infrastructure is needed to support innovation.
- Create a connected organization. Design the organization to apply the additional talents and skills employees have but are not used in their primary role. This “overhang” of capabilities can be applied for innovation by connecting people with the work that needs to be done. One model, used at Cisco, is to create internal internships to contribute to other projects. Another is Intuit’s innovation vacations (my term) that allows employees to take a scheduled break from the regular work to work on a short-term basis for another project.
- Identify those who care about innovation. Recognize that some employees are most comfortable in day-to-day operational roles and maintaining the status quo while others are constantly looking to change things for the better. Those that are seeking to make improvements, especially from the customer’s perspective, should be identified to contribute to product development. This also involves unlocking employees’ initiative, creativity, and passion.
- Make innovation a team sport. There is no such thing as a lone innovator. All innovators have a team around them. Braden created The Nine Innovation Roles™ for effective innovation teams: revolutionary, conscript, connector, artist, customer champion, troubleshooter, judge, magic maker, and evangelist. See details in the blog post he wrote for Innovation Excellence.
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