Work Culture Beats Innovation Culture: Inspiration from Google


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Not so long ago, I put up some warnings on the approaches we often see on “innovation culture” and how companies and their executives, managers and employees try to build this highly desired “innovation culture”.

As you can read in this post, The Perfect Storm: Why Big Companies Get Better at Innovation, I argue that you can’t really develop a culture of innovation when you struggle to define what innovation means to your company and that you can’t really copy the initiatives of Google, Apple or 3M as they have developed their own unique cultures.

Thus, I often urge companies to stop using the term “innovation culture” and then the big question is what to do instead. I give some hints in The Perfect Storm article, but I also really liked some snippets from an interview with Yuval Dvir from Google, who will give a presentation at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in London on Oct 22-23.

In his responses to a few questions, Yuval Dvir provides some relevant insights. The key ones for me in the context of thinking less of an “innovation culture” are to focus on developing the right “work culture” and create the atmosphere alongside different types of tension. See the excerpt below.

What do you see as the key challenge that you are addressing?

Work culture. Digital requires a different foundation from the employees, leadership and teams. Unless companies are willing to change those elements, they will never fully materialize the potential of digital transformation and end up with partial, incremental improvements.

It is important to understand that transformation is a gradual process that progresses incrementally and that’s ok; people first need to unlearn things before they learn the new and better ways of working and like anything new, they need the time and support to go through that. So as long as the motivation, willingness and intent is there, with the support of senior leadership real digital transformation success and the company with its employees are the ones to reap the benefit.

How do you liberate people, without unleashing chaos?

I believe that creating the right atmosphere in the company with the appropriate balance between these tensions (Since the basic idea of innovation goes against any sort of limitations; either by process, policies, structure or rules, even a subtle restraint can trigger a negative reaction in the minds of those trying to innovate, red) is the way to go. Finding the sweet spots between these important elements is what makes your company’s culture, which is centre to a conducive innovation environment.

You can check out the full interview with Yuval Dvir here and you can meet him at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in London October.

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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stefan Lindegaard
Stefan is an author, speaker, facilitator and consultant focusing on open innovation, social media tools and intrapreneurship.


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