Innovation has long been a buzzword in business. The ability to innovate is seen as a marker for success; those that don’t, die. Look at Kodak, Nokia, Motorola – all one-time leaders that failed to innovate and are now shadows of their former selves, if still operational.
Yet for such a desirable asset, the very notion of innovation has a certain intangibility. Everyone knows when they see something innovative, whether it’s a product, service or business model, yet explaining what it is, or how a company can become more innovative, is less clear.
It is vital, however, that businesses can regularly generate ideas. These innovations can be a company’s tool to overcome crisis, opening opportunities to find, analyse and test new products and processes. Having the right tools, the right processes and the right culture is critical in businesses’ ability to implementing innovations that can serve as a decisive factor in outperforming competitors in the future.
As an accelerator that specialises in partnering large corporates with disruptive start-ups for mutual benefit, we spend a lot of time looking at how both enterprises can be more innovative. One thing that we’ve learnt over the years is that there is no tried and tested formula – different tactics work in different organisations, and what has proved successful for one major corporation has not had any impact in another.
There are, however, a number of common themes that keep coming up, irrespective of sector or company size. Of course, culture is at the heart of everything – a conservative, blinkered and arrogant company will always struggle to innovate, as it lacks the receptiveness and hunger to learn that those with a culture of innovation possess.
Five ways to build a culture of innovation
Within that catch-all culture are certain elements that can be put in place. By themselves, they can have a significant impact; together, they can be the foundation for a true culture of innovation, one that empowers even the most traditional of corporations to devise and develop services with the speed of a digital disruptor.
By positioning failure as learning opportunities, rather than as a cause for punishment, corporates can start to develop a culture that is more open to innovating, as they will be more open to the understanding that not all ideas can reach the market, but that they still have immense value.
Being able to become more innovative is rightly seen as a key ability for enterprises, particularly in the current climate. Following these steps can help those companies to build the culture they need to generate ideas that can become tangible products and services that have a direct impact on the bottom line.
Ekaterina Petrova is Managing Director of GenerationS Corporate Accelerator