5 Ways To Transform Your Company’s Innovation Culture

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5 Ways To Transform Your Company’s Innovation Culture

With the world changing rapidly most corporate executives are starting to feel the pressure. There is a realization that beyond cost-cutting and operational efficiency, companies must also invest in developing their innovation pipeline! Corporate leaders often reach for easy solutions or low hanging fruit at the beginning of their journey and quite a few organizations offer training in design thinking, lean startup and agile product development. While these grassroots movements are well and good, it is also starting to dawn on most executives that lean startup training is not enough!

While we may be able to build up the capabilities of our innovation teams, the culture of the organizations within which they work will continue to stifle their efforts to innovate. As such, every company must build an innovation ecosystem!

Organizational transformation must be approached carefully using incremental steps that allow for learning and iteration. Below, we’ve collected five things that all innovators working to transform their company’s innovation culture must consider. Check ’em out!



Focus On Why

An organization cannot be successfully transformed without some clarity as to the reasons why change is necessary! Transformation is a painful process that requires an executive-level commitment to push it through: it falls on leadership to identify with clarity the reasons for the transformation. It is key to avoid generic statements about wanting to become a more innovative company blah blah blah. Leadership has to be clear about the how the world is changing, key trends that are affecting their business and how they plan to use innovation to respond.



Begin With Discovery

Implementing standard frameworks or what has worked well in other companies it’s not always working: most of these frameworks break when they face the reality and complexity of large companies.  As such, we have to begin with discovery. What are the unique challenges within our company? What has worked successfully before? What initiatives have failed and why did they fail? Such discovery work will also uncover key allies and champions that we will need as our transformation work begins.


Work With Early Adopters

Identifying early adopter business units and begin to work with them is vital: within every large company, there are pockets of leaders that get it. They understand how the world is changing and what needs to be done. Working with these leaders first means that our transformation agenda will not face too much resistance while it is still in its nascent stages. This is why it is important to begin with discovery because this will help us find our early adopters. As we succeed with early adopters, other business leaders will then be attracted to our transformation agenda.


Get An Early Win

Before we begin preaching, we have to make sure we get an early win. Working with early adopters helps with this. Companies should select a high profile and important project within their early adopter business unit and work quickly to demonstrate that lean innovation and design thinking methods work. They should document this early win with data and begin celebrating it widely within the company.



Find Your Balance Between Principles And Tactics

Principles trump tactics. Rather than rigidly focus on the tactics of a transformation plan, companies should keep a laser focus on the principles that underlie lean innovation and why transformation is necessary. All other aspects of the work will be emergent! As much as companies plan, the organization will also be changing at its own pace; and sometimes in different directions: transformation plans will never survive the first contact with the organization. As such, companies have to be prepared to be responsive; tough on principles but flexible on tactics.



These are some lessons that i have learned in my work with large organizations. Organizational transformation is brutal work. It is not for the faint-hearted. It is one step forward — two steps back, everyday gut-checking work. But when done well, the results are truly rewarding! We are now beyond the realm of makeshift innovation solutions for large companies. The world is changing so quickly that we need a paradigm shift in how we manage innovation. This shift requires us to transform our organizations and create successful innovation ecosystems!

How’s your company dealing with transformation and innovation? Share with us your experience in the comments section below!

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