Fernando Fischmann

How to create innovation cultures that keep working

10 September, 2014 / Articles

Americans are innovative almost by nature. We grow up with lemonade stands, Shark Tank, and Kickstarter projects. Our national identity is built in part on bootstrapping and experimentation. We’re indoctrinated early with the twin beliefs that each of us holds the seeds of invention and that a good idea can come from anywhere.

And that’s a big problem for corporate culture. Because innovation is the water we swim in, we tend to believe that once we’ve created a functioning culture of innovation, it will sustain itself naturally.

It won’t. Like every other part of a successful business, a culture has to be continually managed, refreshed, and refocused.

During the last four years, my team and I have engaged with executives from over 300 global enterprises across 20 major industry segments. Along the way, we’ve conducted our own informal survey on innovation management. What we’ve heard is that of all the challenges businesses face, culture is the one true deal breaker. It has the power to stymie invention and discovery at every level. Smart companies are already consciously designing the human experience to foster breakthroughs, but they don’t plan for what happens when their culture evolves or breaks down.

Here are two popular innovation culture styles, their challenges, and the best ways to keep them robust and healthy.




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