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Last week Steph Durbin – ICF PCC and Sarah Clarke CDir Fellow ABP had the pleasure of attending the Salford Business School Centre for Sustainable Innovation (CSI) launch event and it got us thinking – how do you create a culture of innovation?  

Culture of Innovation
Culture of Innovation – “The Winds of Change”

Innovation in business: the ability to conceive, develop, deliver, and scale new products, services, processes and business models for customers 

Some important questions to consider:

1. Can you create a culture of innovation? 

YES. YES. YES  

Many people believe that you cannot create organisational cultures because they evolve over time. Organisational culture is based on the social connections of the people in an organisation, it is a result of the norms, behaviours and ways of working unique to that business, so individuals are always influencing culture. Using the science of human behaviour you can create a culture which delivers innovation. Just as many leaders unintentionally create cultures which hinder, limit or reduce innovation – often in complete contrast to what they want to enhance.  

2. How do I create a culture that delivers innovation? 

There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question, although there are several principles which can be applied to help create a culture that delivers innovation. At the event we were privileged to listen to numerous success stories including Arjen Cooper-Rolfe who was an unintentional CEO but led a family business to huge success through purpose-led innovation. So often businesses think they need more people to be more successful. However, this is not the case when you have a skilled leader creating a culture aligned to purpose where idea generation is brought into the everyday life of a business.  

3. Why do I need a Culture of Innovation? 

Because without it you won’t exist. The business resources will get depleted and the business will fail. Research suggests 65% of children at school now will be applying for jobs which don’t exist yet (British Council, 2018) and in our opinion this is conservative in its estimates. It took the telephone 76 years to reach 100 million users, ChatGPT took 2 months. Speed of innovation is fundamental to the success of businesses.  

Speed: the rate at which something or someone moves or operates at 

Organisations which embrace innovation have at least a 59% higher rate of revenue growth than those that don’t (BCG, 2017), however the rise of unicorn businesses (over USD 1 billion) has increased dramatically in recent years showing the ROI for innovation is limitless.

CBInsights, 2022

Innovation: a new or changed entity, realising or redistributing value 

4. So what now?  

The purpose of The Centre for Sustainable Innovation is to provide critical services to the business eco-system.Bringing academia and businesses together, by providing a platform for industry partners to access cutting-edge knowledge, research, skills and capacity-building workshops to empower businesses to stay ahead of the competition. Much more information can be found here – CSI Website.  

5. What if I don’t have time?  

Often, business leaders are highly time-poor, with multiple pressures coming from all angles, and the day job taking up the majority of time. Reacting to customers, solving problems, and responding to queries all mount up and it is often difficult ‘to see the wood for the trees’. If you feel like you don’t have time, or don’t even know where to start, we recommend a diagnostic – to give you the data you need to know where to start.

If this could help you, reach out to Think Organisation and we will help you create the time you need to think about innovation.

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Adapted from an article originally published on LinkedIn, January 30th, 2024.

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