Organizations spend tremendous amount of money, time and resources in forming mission and vision statements. But the question is how much does this influences employee behaviour, or are there hidden factors which shape the culture in an organization? Culture in an organization could be a game changer if implemented right.
People oriented factors have the greatest power to shape the culture in an organization and create a sustained competitive advantage. In today’s world, most organizations recognize that innovation and culture are important to an organization’s success. Yet few have the strategy to link the two together. To put it clearly “The soft stuff is the hard stuff”.
Values in an organization largely determine how people think, feel, react and make decisions. Truly innovative and people oriented organizations promote creativity and have continuous learning as part of their culture.
One of the challenges in defining strategies to shape culture is that culture is about everything an organization does, how its leader speaks, to how their people are treated. It is dynamically created and changes as quickly as it is formed. Leadership attitude is one of the key factors in driving culture. To be successful in the long run, an organization must foster the right culture across all levels.
The specific strategies that can be used for linking culture and innovation are: Encourage Risk Taking, Communicating and Sponsoring.
Encourage Risk Taking: Companies always want creativity and innovation to champion organizational capabilities. Leaders in an organization must create opportunities for implementing change. Leadership must be able to provide ample opportunity to innovate, try new ideas, make mistakes and learn from them. Culture of innovation is built from the attitude of leadership, which then percolates down to the rest of the team. However, for innovation to achieve its business vision, the leaders too must have a vision for themselves which the employees can look up to and follow as their broader goal.
Communicating: Communication, in a contemporary scenario is not just limited to the traditional framework of formal or informal meetings, but also extends to social media enabling discussions amongst peers about their regular routine. Informal communications through social media is increasingly becoming popular as a source that promotes organisational solidarity and creates better work environment. Once the existing informal communications are understood, there lies a wave of opportunity to fortify positive changes, and encourage innovation. This would mean carving new rituals, promoting continuous learning and values which advocate a culture of innovation.
Sponsoring: Fostering a culture of innovation means taking specific steps to nurture culture change. This definition changes from organization to organization. While some may need a structure to support innovation, others might need a different one such as managing work life balance, processing continuous learning, to name a few. The initiative to nurture changes must not be confined to an individual level. These specific measures should be able to harness the potential of the organisation as a whole in order to bring about innovation.
Organizations recognize the strength of culture in propelling innovation. Applying the above strategies in an organization helps realizing a culture built on innovation and drive it to the advantage of accomplishing business vision.