Change your company culture by forging ahead on the path you want your employees to take.
Simply saying you want a climate where products and methods constantly break new ground doesn’t work. You need to lead by example. Writing for Strategy+Business, Rob Shelton argues that changing organisational culture requires a large proportion of your employees to change their attitudes and habits – starting with you.
Here’s how to create new patterns of behaviour that will inspire a culture of innovation:
1) Pull together. Everyone needs to feel involved in a company-wide collaborative drive towards innovation. And don’t forget to include your customers – their insights are a vital part of the process of bringing cutting-edge products to market.
2) Evaluate and reward innovators. Shelton highlights the importance of “intrapreneurs… the folks in larger organisations who couple an entrepreneurial mindset with the ability to leverage company assets such as channels, brand, and market savvy”. Promoting those who make a significant contribution to an innovative project inspires their colleagues.
3) Be agile. Smaller startup businesses tend to move more rapidly than incumbents. Once you accept a shiny new proposal, take swift and efficient action to make it happen or ideas can go stale and momentum can dry up.
4) Wear an investor’s shoes. Rather than simply asking what the risks of a new concept are, look at your idea from a financier’s viewpoint and ask the questions they would pose. Is the idea big enough to make a real difference to your company? What changes are necessary to make it a breakthrough success? Will its impact justify the challenges? Look at how you might overcome any obstacles that emerge.
5) Keep the balance. Fujifilm adapted to the era of digital photography even as the shrinking market for film wiped out Kodak. To thrive in the face of market disruption, big companies must maintain the tension between operational efficiency and innovation, attaching equal importance to both.
As a leader, forging ahead on the path you want your employees to take will prompt them to change their own habits and attitudes.