- A strong Corporate Culture is the bedrock of Innovation
By Leo Boudreau
When we think about what it takes to make a company more innovative so much of the discussion comes back to culture. Virtually everyone talks about the importance of innovation and we all remember when annual reports were liberally sprinkled by some equivalent of “people are our most important asset”. But it is almost impossible for innovation to take hold, survive, and thrive unless the overall culture of the company is supportive. Why? Because innovation is change and change is hard. Creating change requires courage, it requires sticking your neck out and driving forward from the “now and the known” to the “future and the unknown”. In a non-supportive culture, where the courage threshold to make change is high, less of the people in the organization will cross that threshold and less change/innovation will happen.
These four culture-focused articles/videos I think hit on important elements of creating a strong culture.
1) Quick & Nimble Culture
In advance of the publication of his new book, Adam Bryant from the New York Times answered questions about how to build a quick and nimble culture. Mr. Bryant’s booked is based upon hundreds of interviews that he has conducted with CEOs of various firms. I think there are some very insightful observations concerning culture in this blog entry with the Harvard Business Review. See Build a ‘Quick and Nimble’ Culture
2) Scaling Up Excellence
Two Stanford professors have written a book, Scaling Up Excellence, addresses the issue of culture from the perspective of how to get the best out of your people. They focus on how you need to be able to scale to create a successful organization and some of the major obstacles that will be in the path. This is a short video (6 minutes) that provides some interesting headlines that really make you think.
3) Keeping Creative Employees
Inside the FirmAnother challenge of building and sustaining a great innovative culture is how does a firm retain their stars and prevent them from going off to start up their own ventures. Recently this progression has been considered an inevitable price of success but a recent article from the MIT Sloan school reveals strategies that have been adopted by firms who want to retain their best talent. Great talent is certainly one of the most critical elements in maintaining an innovative culture and it is a critical skill for leadership. See Keeping creative employees inside the firm
4) Creating a Culture of Unconditional Love.
Claudio Fernández-Aráoz has written an interesting blog post that draws upon his personal experience with the importance of culture in his firm – Egon Zehnder. They believe culture is so important that they explore a culture fit with every new hire they bring into their firm, making sure that the CEO meets every hire so that he can share their culture and assess how well the candidate might fit within the organization. Further, they have created an ongoing coaching/mentoring program as part of their internal culture to maximize the chance for success and retention. See Creating a Culture of Unconditional Love