3 Steps to a More Innovative Corporate Culture

3 Steps to a More Innovative Corporate Culture

Even small changes can help to establish a culture in the company that promotes innovation and improves competitiveness. […]

Few factors are as critical to success for companies as a culture of innovation. According to McKinsey’s Global Innovation Survey, more than 80 percent of executives agree that innovation is an important aspect of their growth strategy. But only six percent are satisfied with the innovation performance. How can this gap be closed?

The pandemic has brought many companies to a technological turning point, forcing them to accelerate their plans for digital transformation. While this digital quantum leap is definitely an advantage, there is also the risk that too much emphasis is placed on maintaining business operations. As a result, other key performance features such as innovation can be pushed into the background. Innovation is perhaps the best indicator of future success. But many companies are still having a hard time with this. Innovations are often intangible and difficult to measure.

Creating an innovation culture in the post-pandemic world is perhaps one of the biggest challenges for companies. This requires careful and conscious promotion, new ways of thinking and real incentives. So what practical opportunities are there to establish and promote a culture of innovation?

Whether scattered, decentralized workforces are really becoming the new normal cannot yet be conclusively said. But it is becoming apparent that outdated metrics are of little help when it comes to evaluating agile and hybrid teams. A survey of 200 companies in Silicon Valley launched by the Bay Area Council found that before the pandemic, 70 percent of organizations required their employees to be in the office all day.

When the situation changed, there was a consensus that two or three days would be enough. Apple and Google, for example, insisted that they needed a local workforce to maintain not only “culture and innovation”, but also the work-life balance of their employees. However, the greater number of hours worked online should also play a role. According to the survey data, employees in the home office worked at least two to three hours longer every day.

For many experts, it is clear: after the pandemic, managers need a different approach and employees need more detailed feedback in order to better assess their performance. An adjustment of the KPIs to meet the smooth transition between private and working life is becoming increasingly important for the evaluation of innovations.

For many companies, innovations are the way out of the COVID-19 crisis. But this requires, among other things, quick decisions. Inertia leads to stuck ways of thinking. Managers must be ready to loosen control over their employees and allow new ideas. Instead of considering the more flexible working methods due to the pandemic only as a quick and temporary solution, for example, you should permanently align your structures to this.

The disruption of supply chains is a typical example of this. As COVID-19 became a global problem, retailers and manufacturers were caught off guard and forced to change their sales and logistics requirements. As the specialist media Supply Chain Management Review observed, this was the trigger for a wave of innovations that “forced employees to adapt quickly and switch to learning by doing”.

According to McKinsey, “courageous innovators” usually survive crises much better than their competitors. But all employees must be involved in this. In practice, two steps have proven themselves.

First, employees need space and time to get creative. The famous “20 percent rule” introduced by companies such as 3M and Google, for example, encourages employees to spend 20 percent of their time on innovations. Secondly, innovation should be encouraged through incentives and rewards. For example, if you celebrate employees’ innovation efforts in public, you create a strong incentive for future changes. By the way, this also applies if the new ideas are not later implemented in the company.

With material from IDG News Service

*Bastian Seebacher is a freelancer for the CIO and COMPUTERWOCHE editorial offices.

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