Building an innovation culture in your company

More and more companies want to establish an innovation culture in their own business. Whether to introduce new products or services or to optimize and revolutionize existing processes. In order to remain successful in the long run, companies go the most different ways. Whether by setting a Innovationmanager, the Cooperation with startups or by building your own Idea Hub. With a focus on better business practices and increased efficiency and performance, managers often completely overlook one source of innovation – the employees and the need for a culture of innovation within the company.

Innovation culture is cross-departmental

Too often companies think that innovation must be limited to the research and development department. But a company’s path into the future goes beyond pure technological progress or the filing of a patent. Innovation can take place in any area of the company and every employee can play a decisive role here. Innovation can occur in any industry, regardless of factors such as company size or maturity. Therefore, all departments and all employees must be involved in this process of change.

In personnel marketing it is often said that employees are the most valuable external multipliers. But they are also one of the most valuable factors in innovation management when it comes to finding ideas. When a company creates the right environment for innovative thinking and action, i.e. establishes a culture of innovation, employees are often inspired to contribute their knowledge, experience and ideas to the company.


Factors of innovation in the enterprise

In the fall of 2017, Harvard Business Review analyzed data from 3.5 million employees to find out how innovation really works. They came across the following core elements that influence the creation of new ideas in a company:

  1. Scale: Many participants are needed to establish a successful innovation program in the company. The so-called swarm intelligence promotes the creation of new innovative ideas. According to HBR, companies usually generate one idea per four participants in the innovation program.
  2. Frequenz: The unique search for good ideas does not help companies. In order to be successful in the long term, a company must always present its employees with new challenges. This constant activity and problem solving strengthens the culture of innovation and brings more ideas into the process.
  3. Engagement: But the idea alone is not enough, because many good ideas do not necessarily lead to a good and functioning solution. It takes the commitment of other employees to evaluate an idea and find out whether it is worth pursuing the new approach. Successful idea management therefore needs the opportunity to comment on approaches and provide feedback.
  4. Diversity: The most important thing companies need to understand is that there are no special types of people who bring good ideas. Although it often seems that the most productive innovation management is full of engineers and IT specialists, every member of the company can contribute to success. A successful system needs contributions from all employees of the company, as each of them is the specialist in his or her field.


In order to realize these points, it is the task of the management to motivate the employees to participate. He must not only exemplify a culture of innovation, he must also create the space in which they can go out of themselves. No pressure must be created at the same time. Not every employee wants to be part of the idea generation process and that’s okay. But in most organisations there is a lot of potential that should be used to come up with innovative approaches.

Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker is an innovation profiler, future strategist and media expert who helps companies understand the opportunities behind technologies such as artificial intelligence for the next five to ten years. He is the founder of the consulting firm "Alexander Pinker - Innovation Profiling", the innovation marketing agency "innovate! communication" and the news platform "Medialist Innovation". He is also the author of three books and a lecturer at the Technical University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt.

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