Five Foundations for Building a Culture of Innovation

Five Foundations for Building a Culture of Innovation

If you are trying to transform an organisation which is sluggish and risk averse into one which is innovative and entrepreneurial then you have taken on a massive task. One approach is to use the Prosci ADKAR Change Management methodology as advocated by Jeffrey Hiatt and Tim Creasey. It consists of five key stages.

1. Awareness.  It is critical for the leader to communicate the need for change and the importance of the initiative. Not once but over and over again. Leaders at all levels must explain very clearly why continuing the way we are is not an option.  They must address this question:  ‘We are doing OK right now so why do we need to take risks and change things?’  Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop, famously wrote to employees saying ‘we are all standing on a burning platform.’  The leader must make people aware when, how and why this change is necessary and show that the whole executive team is committed to making it happen.

2. Desire.  The leader has to awaken desire in individuals for the challenge of innovation. Not everyone will react enthusiastically but to seed innovation you need a good number of evangelists, lateral thinkers and experimenters. These people have to be encouraged and empowered.  How can their desire be developed?  Some people are motivated by the challenge, some by recognition and praise, some by monetary reward.  Smart managers understand the differing motivations of their individual reports.

3. Knowledge.  People need to know why we need to innovate. They need to know what areas need innovation. They also need to know how to innovate. What does a good innovation look like?  Do we prioritise new products, services, cost savings or productivity improvements? What software platforms are we going to operate and how will we use them? How can we facilitate effective brainstorm sessions? We have to teach people how to innovate.  You train people for other soft skills so why not train them to think laterally, to experiment and to implement ideas?

4. Ability.  You do not get innovation for free. You have to allocate time, people and money. Innovation needs high level sponsors who are actively engaged in innovation projects. They have to ensure the resources are in place and the inevitable roadblocks are overcome. The organisation has to develop appropriate approval processes, stage-gates and minimum viable products. It has to develop the ability to innovate.

5. Reinforcement. Simply broadcasting the intent to change the culture is not enough. The message needs constant reinforcement. There will be early setbacks and failures. These have to be treated as learning opportunities.  Unless their is constant reinforcement of the message people will see the initiative as another passing fad.  They will revert to business as usual.

The Prosci Adkar Model is explained in the book Change Management by Jeffrey Hiatt and Timothy Creasey.

 
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Paul-Sloane-780812Paul Sloane writes, speaks and leads workshops on creativity, innovation, and leadership. He is the author of The Innovative Leader and editor of A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing, published both published by Kogan-Page. Follow him @PaulSloane

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