The word ‘innovation’ has been known to receive in the region of two-billion hits in a single year on Google.
This could be viewed in two ways. It could prove that people are engaged with the concept and eager to learn about it, or that the internet’s become awash with modifiers, which make innovation a vague and often misunderstood term.
Commonly, the term is used as code for technology. This isn’t right either. At its core, innovation is about doing something differently in a way that either makes something more efficient or effective. That’s why it continues to top polls as the number one business priority for organizations around the world.
Let’s look at a few things companies should think about when they’re trying to make their culture more innovative.
There are a number of cliches surrounding the relationship between failure and innovation. With ’fail forward’ and ‘embrace failure’ two of the most painful.
Failure has an important part to play in a company’s culture, and an approach to it which is either too accepting or too adverse is likely to bring problems. A workforce should be given the freedom to work on projects that they feel will bring improvements, without the fear of their bosses breathing down their necks.
Companies, however, should never ‘embrace’ failure. They should accept it, but never celebrate it. If you can innovate without failure then you should - there’s nothing to be gained from failing for the sake of failing.
Having said that, if failure occurs, it shouldn’t always be a cause for the project to be abandoned. Instead, companies should reassess and plan how they are going to avoid the failure next time.
‘For companies that want to out-think and out-pace the competition, an entrepreneurial culture isn't optional: it's an absolute necessity.’
The words of Jennifer Prosek, the author of ‘Army of Entrepreneurs: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth’.
The biggest advantage of an entrepreneurial culture is that the interests of the company are aligned with the employee. This is a feat which most companies don’t achieve - and it costs them dearly.
An Entrepreneurial culture brings commitment and gives employees the feeling that their actions are directly impacting the company.
Coffee Shop Culture
If you’ve worked in a company that is attempting to innovate, you’ll know that there isn’t a one size fits all solution. Companies are all different. Workforces react to varying stimuli. Some would thrive in a ‘coffee shop culture’ where they’re given the freedom to complete their work outside of the confines of a traditional office and some wouldn’t.
Organizations like Google and Lego have offices which would have been inconceivable only five years ago. But that isn’t to say that companies with traditional workspaces are wrong, innovation, as a concept is much more than just the arrangement of an office.
Open plan offices are becoming more and more popular, though, with major companies, such as the BBC, Facebook, Lego and Google, all looking to replicate that coffee shop culture - so there’s clearly something in it.