How do we realise a culture of innovation?

Over the last years many organizations have focused on operational excellence. As market circumstances change rapidly through different reasons, like technological, social, ecological and political. In this era organizations have to adapt and adopt a different mindset. The mindset of an entrepreneur that spots opportunities, transforms them into value for others and inspire and activate others to realise this value. By doing so, the organization will stay relevant to end-users and will never be out of business.

Focus should shift from short term to long term, while finding a new balance between business factors and human factors. The following model shows this shift:

Culture of Innovation

This model shows that there should be a balance in the development. What if this balance is not present?

Too much business focus

Organizations that focus on the business, i.e. on developing innovative concepts like new products and services, without keeping human factors in mind, will be at risk to loose these innovations. As the organization does not embrace the innovation (not invented here) as a whole, the possibility increases that the innovation will be carved out. Those who are involved in the innovation will follow the innovation, leaving the organization behind without utilizing the investment.

It’s not about the innovations, it’s about the innovators!

Too much human focus

So focusing on innovations will not bring you towards harvesting the new opportunities. How about having the focus on the development of the mindset and abilities of our staff?

Organizations that focus on the human factors, like training and experiences, without giving space to developing innovative solutions, will be at risk to loose these innovators. They will get disappointed and disillusioned, looking for new opportunities and find their way out of the organization. In this case too, investments done will not benefit the organization.

How to keep the balance

Successful organizations find a balance between business and human focus. In this development they facilitate different steps to be taking, one time with a focus on training and next on developing innovative solutions. During this innovation expedition, getting more people in the organization involved and connected is key to work towards this entrepreneurial mindset. It is likely that you start with the innovators and early adapters, moving towards the early majority next. This asks for strong leadership from senior management, giving space, stimulating experiences and keeping in mind that the way is paved with pitfalls and barriers. Not expecting short term results and embracing lessons learned along the way will feed this new mindset, curious to find new solutions.

First steps

A good way to start this innovation expedition is by organizing an experience of 1-3 days, allowing anyone within the organization that would like to participate to join. During this experience the participants go through the process of Dutch Design Thinking, either via a serious game of on a real life case. During this experience, you will see who has the mindset and attitude to become a member of the multidisciplinary innovation expedition team. This team will set a next step by being trained and initiate their first steps to develop innovative solutions. They are likely to spot opportunities themselves, turning them into value for others. Along the way they will spot new participants in this journey too, who enter the process. This way of working is adopted by a growing number of organizations, like the Innovatiecoaches Defensie of the Dutch Ministry of Defence.