Building innovation in the workplace: it all begins with culture – PART I

6th December 2022 |
4 min read

Part I: the why and the how of building the innovation culture in your organization.

To stand out in the oversaturated market today, the company must go beyond traditional thinking, established processes, and basic survival with minimum effort. If you want to compete with the best, you can’t let your organization and employees stagnate. So how to prevent this from happening? It all starts with fostering a culture of innovation in your workplace. Easy to say? It boils down to this – encourage creativity and freedom of thinking and expressing ideas for everyone in your organization. There are undeniable advantages to this approach. Read on to find out what they are and how we at Innovatika encourage developing the culture of innovation.

Innovation – more than brilliant ideas

The mundane, repetitive tasks, the recurring KPIs, and the same old products launched every season – this is not how you want to be perceived by the customers and competitors alike. When you think about innovation, what usually comes to mind is actually – ideation. But innovation is about much more than coming up with new ideas, although they are essential for your company’s development. It’s about a compilation of smaller tasks that lead to success:

  • Optimizing processes
  • Adapting the business model to changes
  • Improving a website’s performance
  • Deepening understanding of customers’ needs
  • Looking at challenges from a completely different perspective
  • Trying out a tool that hasn’t been used before

In Innovatika, we talk about innovation, referring to all the steps we take to tackle problematic areas and improve business outcomes for our clients.

The 8 pillars of innovation

Taking a more holistic look, consider the following aspects ( so-called 8 P’s) of innovation:

  • Processes: structured and established help to adapt to the changing environments
  • People: it’s all about finding and motivating the right talent
  • Projects: changing the approach to project management, introducing lean methods
  • Problems: it means focusing on the most pressing projects to maximize profit
  • Priorities: aligning innovation efforts with a long-term business strategy
  • Progress: implementing and measuring the correct KPIs
  • Partnerships: transform the company with external help to maximize your chances for success
  • Places: open the space and open the employees’ minds to boost creativity

Benefits of building a culture of innovation in your organization

Your goal as a successful organization should be to build innovation into everyday activities.

Creating an innovation culture will help you achieve this and, at the same time, will bring undeniable benefits to your organization:

  • It stimulates improvement and change
  • It brings new ideas to the table
  • It fosters out-of-the-box thinking
  • It increases diversity in your organization
  • It helps you attract and maintain talent
  • It allows employees to think and innovate freely
  • It facilitates faster decision-making and implementation of feedback-based adjustments
  • It leads to moving from survival to company growth

The big question is, how to create a workplace culture of innovation?

Let us share the experience we gathered in the 18 years of our active presence in the innovation market.

Creating a culture of innovation – how we do it

First, you must understand that some sort of distinguishable culture has always existed in your organization from the beginning of its existence. If the company employs any people, they always have a particular way of communicating, their unwritten rules, history, or assumptions. At some stage of the organization’s development, it is worth writing them down and evaluating how well they support the established strategy and goals. Once defined, the culture can be adapted and molded to become more oriented toward innovative activities. But the culture is never built from scratch unless your organization just came to life.

Design thinking approach to cultural transformation

Innovation starts with strategy. In Innovatika, we build our strategy based on a design thinking approach, and for a good reason. The Polish Development Fund surveyed 100 large companies participating in the Innovation Maturity Survey. The results: almost 100% of companies that used a design methodology based on identifying customer needs implemented at least one innovation in 2021. For companies who weren’t using such methods, the percentage was only 52%.

Design thinking is a problem-solving practice that makes people the focus of change. It relies on intuition, emotions, cultural norms, and people’s needs to search for solutions. It can help transform the organization’s culture by driving creativity and putting the customer and employees at the center of strategic planning.

When using design thinking in driving cultural change, you identify problems, collect solutions, observe, choose the best ones, test them out and, if needed, introduce corrections.

We put this methodology into practice when working out Innovatika’s values.

As we highly value inclusiveness and diversity, all employees were invited to the dedicated workshop organized for this purpose. We used tools such as Miro to visualize the company’s processes and challenges that we have to tackle every day. We discussed shared and individual values, used the workshop method based on associations, and ultimately came up with several slogans that describe who we are and how we work: Be future makers, Always stay human, Get things done, and Never stop learning.

We also invited employees to the consultation on the organization’s draft strategy because the design thinking approach should be based on feedback and input from interested stakeholders.

In the next article, we’ll dive into the details of our way of creating an innovation culture in the workplace. Talk to us if you want to learn about our approach or compare experiences.

Paulinia Gniadzik
Paulina Gniadzik
People & Culture Expert
Psychologist associated with startups since the beginning of her career. Combines business and human needs – actively listens to employees’ needs and builds a culture of open exchange of ideas. She implements elements of employer branding throughout the employee journey. Creating qualitative and lasting relationships is the basis for her.

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