In a world where technology is changing the fundamental structures of how we live our lives it is easy for companies to get fixed on the shiny new thing in their pursue for growth. As a consultant specialising in brand growth in the digital space I’ve worked with a vast number of companies that struggle to transform to satisfy demands expected by the modern consumer. Most of the times these struggles can be directly connected to people problems such as internal politics, fear for change, hidden agendas and an ignorance of what is required to create substantial change. It is no surprise that building an internal culture of innovation has fast become a top priority for C-level executives across most markets.

Let’s get one thing straight: Business innovation starts with a human centric approach where empathy and understanding for individual needs, life patterns and behaviours are central. New inventions don't happen overnight and very rarely turn out to be as was intended in the first place which is why it requires full management commitment and organisational support from day one. To increase business and organisational competitiveness, it is fundamental for every company to establish a work environment where new ideas can grow, come to life and mature. A space where contribution and collaboration is safe guarded. Remember that innovation is about our ability to change and change is about stop doing the things that are not working. This mental shift can be realised in two ways either a) Incremental which means step-by-step or b) Radical meaning substantial leaps.

Fundamentals for creating a successful culture of innovation

  • Organisation Giving staff members titles and responsibilities are not enough. Innovation doesn’t come just from giving people incentives but rather by creating environments where their ideas can connect and grow
  • Discrimination This is a sensitive topic but business innovation is not a democratic task. Carefully select people within your organisation that are solution orientated and construct a group with diverse perspectives and skills. For sure it is important to validate the relevance of new concepts but in the early stage be careful about including individuals that prefer to see problems rather than possibilities
  • Concentration To progress effectively avoid initiating too many innovation projects at the same time. It only creates noise and steals focus from what you are trying to achieve. Instead maximise learning and progress within a couple of prioritised projects by creating a continuous flow of experiments. The number of experiments you produce will dramatically reflect the number of successful innovations that are achieved
  • Collaboration Move away from the boundaries of the traditional organisation chart and find ways to erase any walls of separation within your organisation that complicates cross functional collaboration. Increase power to the process by forming integrated umbrella teams that break structural silos and invite outside specialists to contribute with speed and a valuable outside-in perspective
  • Display & collect Business innovation is an iterative process. Pay attention to continuous feedback by sharing, testing and adjusting details as the project develops. For many companies, and individuals too for that matter, it is awkward to expose work that is not considered to be complete. But on the contrary this is where the magic happens. Don’t work for too long behind closed doors and remember to let the data decide what to do next

My suggestion to company executives is to avoid looking at innovation as a separate initiative and instead aim to integrate the mindset across existing business units. Value creation comes from constant re-modelling and the willingness to disrupt. Make sure that you have a clear plan for how to make business innovation more than just a fancy buzzword in the boardroom.