What makes or breaks a successful innovation strategy

What makes or breaks a successful innovation strategy

"Okay, let’s do it! Let's innovate!" If it were that simple! Innovation at the push of a button does not work, because it is part of a company’s corporate culture. As a rule, innovation is not part of one department but is a process that should happen across all departments. These can only succeed if all those involved in the process have a common culture of innovation, norms and values that promote and enable innovation. A positive innovation culture creates space and incentives for employees to think and act innovatively across departments.

The innovation culture provides the framework for achieving business goals. It deals with:

  • Ability - the ability to innovate
  • Willingness - the willingness to innovate
  • Allowance - the allowance/permittance to innovate

Corporate culture makes all the difference

These three dimensions interact with each other. Those who are able and willing but fail and are held back by mostly unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles will lose their motivation and willingness to innovate. Those who are overwhelmed will continue to work the way they have always done so in the past, instead of bringing about change. Companies therefore have the task of creating an optimal framework amongst those three parameters: ability, willingness, and allowance, to create a culture of innovation. In addition, the corporate and innovation culture is put to the test in phases of change and growth.

Understanding the development phases of the company

Innovations secure unique selling propositions and pioneering positions in the market, provided that the entrepreneurial development phases along the way are mastered. One particularly critical area is the integration of new employees into the existing workforce. In existing teams that have been working together for a while, many rules, structures, and processes are somewhat evident to the existing team members and are thus no longer discussed or explained. This of course can be challenging for new colleagues, who are trying to understand the team and the company better. Unspoken expectations, unclear responsibilities and strong internal ties lead to misunderstandings and create a “division” or a rift amongst the different subgroups.

In addition, there is often a lack of planning and dedicated resources to facilitate the onboarding of new employees. The lack of integration and being familiar with the company, reduces the performance of the individual and the team and thus leads to increased turnover. However, stability in the personnel structure and the further development of employees are essential for the job satisfaction as well as work ability, which also results in economic success of the company.

Innovation culture enables joint success - despite instability

Growth phases are characterized by instability: internal talents are being promoted but still have to grow into their new roles and tasks. At the same time, existing hierarchical orders are disrupted. Pre-Programmed are thus conflicts and friction. New processes and methods require new forms of communication, but often there is not enough time to learn, test and implement them. This leads to people being overwhelmed and frustrated, which has a negative impact on the working atmosphere.

Generally speaking, larger companies tend to be more over-regulated and small companies are under pressure to provide helpful structures and processes. What matters is a good mix and balance of innovation management and creative freedom.

This is the task of innovation culture: framework conditions, processes and structures must be designed in such a way that they enable success to be achieved together, because only together, one can promote integration and innovation.