How to develop an innovative culture

Why a new decade is the perfect time to upgrade your corporate culture.
27 December 2019

It all starts with having an innovative mindset. Source: Shutterstock

As we enter a new decade, many businesses will be investing and exploring how they can innovate and lead the way with digital customer experiences. The incoming tidal wave of tech innovations and convergence of emerging technologies such as IoT and 5G will continue to reshape the digital landscape.

Technological change and industry disruption continue to race ahead at breakneck speed, and 100 percent remote teams are becoming the norm. But many forget that tech is also a catalyst for cultural change that can help teams navigate away from the old ways of working and archaic processes that slow things down.

When attempting to embed a new innovative culture, you will need more than a room full of multi-coloured beanbags, ping-pong, and foosball tables. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to handpick a team of specially gifted creative types to generate ground-breaking ideas either.

Every employee is creative and innovative. Many have just been trained to think otherwise after years of listening to the loudest voices in the room take over. But it’s time to tear down these self-imposed barriers and information silos so we can begin to unite teams across all departments.

Every customer, website visitor, and social media follower will come from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds. They will also have unique experiences and opinions. If you do not have the same diversity of thought as your audience, how can you serve them?

Obtaining buy-in from every employee and convincing them that their voice is crucial in delivering innovative change is not as easy as it sounds. But it plays a critical role in the creation of the digital customer experiences that your business needs to thrive and survive in the experience economy.

Don’t be afraid to encourage debate by putting together teams that consist of people from different backgrounds with a variety of skillsets. Replacing traditional silos with cross-functional collaboration across a business can help everyone understand the bigger picture. If start-ups made up entirely of remote teams on different continents can innovate, you have no excuse for not mixing things up.

Carrying on regardless with the same working methods that your company built its success ten years ago is a dangerous path to take. You cannot innovate repeating the same tried and trusted process. The problem with the old way of doing things is we have created a culture where everyone is afraid to fail because of the repercussions.

It’s time to admit that nobody will learn anything in a culture of perfectionism. If you are serious about discovering new business models and embedding a culture of innovation, you will need to celebrate rather than fear imperfection.

As a child, we are all curious by nature and are born innovators. But over time, we are encouraged to conform and curb our curiosity. Replacing an active mental state with passivity eventually convinces people that they are simply not creative.

In a digital world where we live in self-created echo chambers, we increasingly only see what we like and block out what we don’t. Binary thinking is stopping us from challenging our assumptions, opinions, worldview, and belief. Only by encouraging everyone to continuously learn from others and accept the vulnerability of being wrong can we truly move forward.

As RPA and automation force employees to move away from repetitive and mundane tasks, maybe we will naturally awaken our curiosity once again to unlock creative innovation. Businesses need to help their teams change their entire mindset to accept that inaction is the enemy of innovation rather than action.

Rather than just upgrading your tech, you also need to upgrade the mindset of everyone within your organization. Only by embracing the diversity of thought can you begin to identify the blind spots in your company and genuinely start building a culture of innovation.

Once again, we find ourselves at the time of year where everyone is making predictions for a new decade and the tech trends that will dominate the business world. But, as we let the machines automate repetitive tasks, we are about to re-awaken the curiosity of employees. Ironically, rather than being enslaved by machines as many headlines suggest they are actually setting us free and awaking us from our slumber.

Imagine the speed at which your business can accelerate its progress by letting technology do the heavy lifting and freeing up your teams to explore the art of the possible. That is the journey that forward-thinking businesses will be taking in the next decade. Will you be joining them in leveraging the best of technology and your workforce?