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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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