Creating a culture of innovation in an enterprise
The contemporary world is characterized by a continuous technological progress. Almost every day we can hear about new products, services, methods, etc. Very often term “innovative” is used in relation to them. We wrote about what innovations really are and how they can be used to develop businesses in one of the previous articles. But the word “innovative” can also be applied to enterprises, which are more frequently referring to as this. What does innovation mean in the company and how to create it, more about it in today’s article.
What is innovation?
The idea behind the concept of innovation is “a set of competences of the organization to constantly discover the sources of innovation, to absorb innovations from the outside and to generate own innovations, their implementation and diffusion (generalization)”1. To put it more simply, it is the ability to generate new ideas, the desire to improve or to create something new, and then implementing these novelties and their commercialization. Innovation manifests itself in an unconventional thinking, searching for solutions and going beyond the framework of everyday routine.
Probably everyone knows companies such as Apple, Google or Microsoft. There isn’t a shadow of doubt about that these companies achieved their global success thanks to the innovations. It proves that our world is open to innovations and the demand for them is constantly growing. It also means that enterprises that do not follow the path of innovation may lose their competitiveness, which in consequence may lead to the fact that they will cease to exist in a few years. So, do those companies that do not have such a charismatic leader as Steve Jobs or do not have capital equal to Google’s capital, have a chance to become innovative? The answer to this question is YES! Innovation is not a feature of the chosen ones. Innovation is an attitude that everyone can shape in themselves.
Attitude is the key
Some people are born innovators. Coming up with new ideas for them comes with extraordinary ease. But what about those who spend long hours trying to come up with something new while the effects are still unsatisfactory? We have one piece of advice for such people: the key is attitude! Innovation is above all an attitude that can be worked out. The most important thing in being innovative is openness. It is the engine that drives innovation. Nothing new will be invented by repeating same activities or closing your mind for the new experiences coming from surroundings.
Another important element in creating innovation is contact with people. Many ideas come from the outside, they are consequences of conversations with other people. That is why it is so important to spend time with them, talk to them, get to know their opinions on various topics. It allows us to unleash our inner potential which can result in new ideas and solutions. Therefore, if you want to create innovation in an enterprise, you should start by changing your attitude.
“The architects of innovation”
The key role in creating innovation in the enterprise is played by the leaders – called “architects of innovation” in a book of the same title by Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg and Paddy Miller. According to the authors, the main task of the leader is to create in enterprise a culture of innovation, i.e. conditions in which creativity will be an inseparable element of the work of every employee, regardless of their position. The authors point out here to often made mistake, which is a momentary desire to create something innovative. Brainstorms are organized, employees are send to workshops that will bear fruit with new ideas. Sometimes the effects are completely different. Employees return to work in which they do the same every day, which is killing their creativity. That is why it is so important to develop an innovation culture that will foster innovation on a daily basis. It may be manifested in the way the work is organized or by new habits, practices and rituals that will help in triggering new ideas.
Another task for the management is to motivate and support their employees. The leader should be a guide for his team that can inspire and mobilize it to generate new ideas. For this purpose a special book was written; “a canon of five basic innovative behaviors”, which include: concentration, contact, modification, selection and diplomacy. All these behaviors should be supported by perseverance in introducing innovation every day. Introduction of so-called “the 5 + 1 model” has a significant impact on shaping the attitude of innovation among employees. Thus, creating new ideas will not be a one-time wonder, but will permanently become part of the company’s system.
Management of innovation
Innovations are becoming much more significant. In many enterprises separate departments which deal with innovative activities of the company are created. Therefore, an important aspect in creating an innovative enterprise is the introduction of innovation management process in it.The drawing below presents four pillars, of which the innovation management process should be composed, according to the Institute of Innovation Poland.
The first and the most important pillar in innovation management process is diagnosis. Diagnosis is the definition of the company’s current level of innovation and analysis of its environment in terms of ability to create innovation. You can carry out the diagnosis yourself, or outsource the so-called innovation audit.
The second step is to create an organizational structure and processes that will enable the implementation of creating innovative ideas process in the company.
The next step is generating new ideas, as well as managing the implementation process of the projects.
The last pillar of innovation management defines the method of financing innovations. Sources of financing may come from both internal and external sources (subsidies, investors, etc.).
The process of managing innovation is necessary if the enterprise wants to effectively implement innovations. It enables effective supervision of implementing innovations, allows measuring the company’s innovation level, or controlling expenses incurred in this area. Introducing this process to the company shows how high ranged innovations are in it.
Without a doubt, innovations are a topic that is becoming more and more significant. The high level of computerization and technological progress means that the demand for innovations is growing. Therefore, in order to stay on the market, companies should follow the path of innovation and shape this trait. An important role in this process is played by the leader who, as an “architect of innovation”, creates a system in the company that will release creative ideas on daily basis. In addition, he or she should be a kind of guide who motivates his team to be creative. Creation of innovation in an enterprise is therefore a continuous process carried out each day.