Currently viewing the tag: "Innovation Culture"

Working the land to sow

Probably many of us have thought of changes we would like to do in our life. When it comes to cause changes in health-related behaviors, most people know what to do.

People think having a varied and nutritious diet, keep their body mass index, getting enough sleep, vigilance with medical examinations, reduce stress, etc.

“Making healthy lifestyle changes affects not only our risk for disease and the way we feel today but also our health and ability to function independently in later life. What we do for ourselves is often more important than what medicine can offer us. Yet making healthy changes is easier said than done. Even when we’re strongly motivated, adopting a new, healthy habit — or breaking an old, bad one — can be terribly difficult.” – Harvard Medical School

The change of behavior generally requires a gradual progression of small steps towards a larger goal.

When there is the intention to perform a specific behavior, we are influenced in the way we think, that is, there is a set of inner thoughts and feelings that result from the combination of standards and control mechanisms of society.

After all attitudes are a small thing that makes a big difference!

For example, we may think that knowledge plays an important role to get people to begin to change the behavior, but this is far from truth.

In fact, so that people begin to change, you must have the ability to socialize with others and encourage them to collaborate in order to provoke change.

Likewise our ability to express ourselves, to explain clearly what we want is essential so that we can encourage people to collaborate on this change through ideas.

We know that empathy is an individual capacity, which resides within the person, but only arises when in fact there is an exchange. For this exchange takes place, we must use our ability to understand the intentions and desires of others, and consequently we relate well in society.

The change arises if our behavior create a perception of honesty.

However, make changes in our professional lifestyle or work may not be a simple thing.

In organizations, apart from our own resistance to change us we counted hurdles often coated with informal characteristics as is the case of company culture.

The organizational culture includes the norms, values and beliefs that are shared by the company’s employees and whose frame is built by the leaders, by history and by the way work is valued and rewarded.

When a company begins to feel the resistance to change and to innovation, is probably a resistance with origin in leadership who doesn’t believe in their ability to be successful with innovation.

But when there is a company with a strong culture of innovation this can give the company a powerful competitive advantage, because culture permeates all levels of the company, including the beliefs shared by the leadership.

But, how can we go from a “culture of resistance to a culture of innovation?

For an organization to become innovative and don’t submit resistance to change the company have to make sure that the land where is developing their culture is fertile and that seed of receptivity to change were well launched.

Only when the culture becomes permeable to change is that collaborators are more likely to have an active participation in innovative environments.

The first steps are the recognition of the need for change and the definition of urgency.

It is important that the Organization recognizes clearly what are the reasons that push for change, and where they should focus their efforts.

It is also important that the leadership show employees how will be the Organization after the change and expresses support in addition to develop a compromise between all.

Once they have done the work on the ground with the seeds, it is necessary to maintain the transition as if it were a growing plant until they reach the mature stage to collect the fruits of this change.

As in any other culture, innovation culture requires a special care in the treatment of the land where we want it to be developed.

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Culture of innovation

Yesterday morning, I attended a debate on the “Innovation and the market” and a statement of the reasons that led some Portuguese companies to follow the path of innovation management certification.

The event was promoted by APCER and by COTEC and businesses companies there represented were the TMG, Efacec, Siemens and Ambidata which gave some examples of their activities on innovation, not only products but also processes and design. However what captivated me was the emphasis (finally!) on culture of innovation in enterprises.

In an environment dominated by certification in management of innovation, that assumes a high coefficient of formality to evoke the culture of innovation as a success factor was a pleasant surprise. We were talking about people and not of procedures to follow and this made me think that the Portuguese companies are on track (not all).

Talk about culture of innovation means asking questions based on values and focus on people and that in view of their diversity and the amount of possible interactions are living examples of complex situations.

Inside the organizations we can observe three types of arrays in constant movement, i.e. the individual, group and organization, all interactive not only internally but also with the outside world.

This applies to whatever the dimension of the Organization, but the type of interaction varies substantially, and so it is not always true that persons or groups of people react better to a certain type orientation, for example, from top to bottom.

The motivations at the top of the hierarchy are very different from those that are at lower levels. For these what motivates us is the belief in what we do, what has meaning and purpose.

At the event, John Benedict from Efacec said that innovation should be a dimension omnipresent in management, and I think when that happens we have a very powerful lever, then yes, top to bottom, to promote the culture of innovation, but that doesn’t mean an absence of lower levels of the organizational structure.

In an organization, there are three specific elements that are related to the greater capacity for innovation.

1-   Organizational practice – the different activities and initiatives that are implemented to facilitate a collaborative practice.

Many organizations employ a top down approach to innovation. Strategy is formulated at the top along with the major initiatives for achieving it. Some of these initiatives will be innovative in nature, related to the development of an innovative process, product or service. Top down approaches may solicit input from deeper in the organization, but the formulation of the innovative ideas remains at the top. Hybrid approaches create a structure in the middle of the organization that encourages innovations from the bottom up and works to shape them into viable business ideas.”

2-   Knowledge processes that deal with issues related to shared knowledge, or co-produced.

Knowledge becomes an innovation only when it is employed in any activity or practice.

Pedro Coutinho da Ambidata  said at the event that the greatest return, which has been the case in the innovation processes, is in fact the new knowledge and added that later the financial return eventually arise.

3-   The collaborators and the roles they play in the work of the organization.

This is perhaps the most crucial part of the culture of innovation and success in projects which may have nothing to do with the vocation (traditional) of each company, as was the case pointed to by John Seabra Siemens when approached a company project called Temporary Airport Terminal.

The motivations throughout the hierarchy are different and this means we have different behaviors in an organization in accordance with the attitudes of top management.

If leaders are clearly the willingness to embrace innovation it becomes easier to do that the organization behavior goes in the direction to facilitate the intentions of the leadership, but only if the individual motivations and groups are of intrinsic nature.

This way the innovation initiatives and practices become more transparent and are assimilated and combined with each other, and may give rise to lighter structures and flat. In this case knowledge flows and is focused on common objectives resulting in a natural development of a culture of innovation.

Collaborators go to play roles of collaboration instead of confrontation and the recognition and reward evolves with your performance.

Recalling what said yesterday Isabel Furtado from TMG:

There are four pillars in Innovation: People, strategy, ambition and self-assessment.

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Recognize learning

Learn by doing or learn from mistakes is always an opportunity for personal and organizational growth.

Many times when we experience our ideas we tend to look exclusively to the results and do not consider the learning we do from successes and failures.

It is worth pointing out that innovation is not a result solely of a genial idea that followed a linear path to win consumers or users.

Vijay Govindarajan says:  Innovation = ƒ(Strategy + Creativity + Execution)

And because to reach a good end result is necessary to experiment new ideas and to do so successfully, there are three variables to consider:

Ideation Success = ƒ(Encourage + Fail + Combine)

Encourage constant low-cost experiments, have hope for failure because it will mean the organization is stretching, and Learn how to combine failed ideas to form exciting new ones is the “magic” formula according to Govindarajan.

Try and fail early translates into lower cost and in a continuous learning until the final result, but to do this it is necessary that the fear is not present, which means that the culture of the organization do not penalizes the fail.

In other words, without fear of non-recognition by the effort and encouraging and recognizing learning as a positive factor in performance, organizations leverage the effectiveness in implementation.

Experimentation not only allows you to check the validity of the idea as allows depart in a more solid way ideas that are not consequential, which populate the imaginary of people in the organization while giving way to a style of learning that organization.

“Bite off as little a piece as possible to generate proof – a small experiment instead of a big one.” Roger Martin

Think big start small is an expression already common that fits in the quote above. When we want to do experiments in early phases of implementation we should already be aware that previous were experienced, if not we increase unnecessary costs. This is a situation that occurs frequently in software projects and that drags headaches and very little learning.

Small successes are great rewards because they are fuel for the journey.

These successes often arise when combining ideas as a result of debates.

One of the most fun and fruitful steps of developing ideas is experimentation. Experimentation allows us to test our concept or our imagination fits with the desired reality.

All the details or components of our idea, are viewed and all connections are checked, reduced or enlarged to achieve our objective.

Experimentation leads to curiosity and encourages questions and hypotheses. This attitude of curiosity caused produces energy and launches the debate.

This debate is vital and needs diversified teams, i.e., interdisciplinary teams. When people around an idea have all or most of them, knowledge and practices in the same disciplines, the results are convergent and potentially limited. At some moment the divergence is crucial for creativity.

But at the core of the implementation process is prototyping, turning ideas into actual products and services which will then be tested, placed in interaction and refined.

Through prototypes, we seek to discover unforeseen implementation challenges and unintended consequences, in order to obtain more reliable results of long-term success. Prototyping can validate a component of an electronic device such as a detail on the interaction between a transmitter and a receiver.

After the completion of the process of prototyping and the final product or service be created, the team helps to create a communication strategy.

And all this way, being allowed, learning is done even with the flaws and contributes to consolidating the culture of the organization.

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