Two kinds of barriers – attitudinal and institutional – can block innovation in your organization. Of the two, attitudinal barriers are by far the more dangerous. What can you do to overcome them?
World-class innovators use three powerful levers to change the attitudes and behaviors of their workers. The three levers are innovation policies, innovation programs, and innovation structures.
Policies tell workers what behaviors are expected. In a culture where words are understood to express feelings, hopes and social niceties, rather than taken as commitments to act, it is essential that corporate leaders go beyond inspirational speeches. The leaders themselves must “walk the talk” of innovation, and the company’s policies must demonstrate that innovation is a requirement, not an option.
Programs are organized activities that promote innovation in the company. These may range from special events and workshops to innovation projects to corporate-wide campaigns. Innovation programs give employees opportunities to participate directly in the work of innovation.
Structures are departments, offices and positions in the organization where various steps in the innovation process will be managed. Unless specific individuals and groups are assigned to look after the process and held accountable for its outcomes, it can be difficult to assess and improve an organization’s performance in the area of innovation.
Attitudinal barriers to innovation may come from your national culture, your industry culture, or your corporate culture. No matter the source, you can create policies, programs and structures to make world-class innovation happen in your organization.
Related reading: You Can Innovate Anywhere – Even Insurance Companies!