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How do you build an innovative culture?

How do you drive an innovation in your organization? How do you build an organization where people are coming up with the new and fresh ideas to improve your organizations at all levels and to develop products and services that will enrich the lives of the people that you serve?

Inspiring Vision

First, it starts with an inspiring vision. Inspiring vision is driven by a cause that people would believe in. For example, my company’s vision says, “break the cycle of poverty and homelessness in the lives of our tenants through transformative affordable housing.” This vision inspires me, because it is driven by a cause that I am very passionate about. I live in Vancouver, where the supply of affordable housing is not meeting the demands of the people. As a Christian, who believes that God cares about our city, I am deeply troubled by the increase of homelessness in our city. So, when I go to the work, that vision motivates me to work faithfully, and also to work creatively to look for solutions that will help people find homes.

This is what inspiring vision does. It gives a cause for people to believe in. When people work for the deep-held cause, they don’t work for money, or for promotion. They work for a cause that they deeply care about. When that happens, the people in your organization will do whatever it takes in their power to fulfill the organization’s vision.

Encouraging Culture

Secondly, to drive an innovation, you need build an encouraging culture. If a company says, “Innovate,” but does not encourage the people to try out the new ideas and instead gives them a fear of failing, then the employees will not be very motivated to take the risks necessary for innovation in fear of failures.

Google is known to be a world-leading tech company that has brought a lot of innovative tools and services to the world. One of the reasons the company is so successful is because it encourages its employees to try new things without a fear of failings. If an organization does not take the risks of failures, it will discourage the employees from taking on the risks necessary for innovation. Even Warren Buffet is not always right about his investment decisions.

So, the culture that says “it is okay to fail as long as you do not repeat it and learn from it,” and encourages the employees to take the calculated risks is critical to building a culture of innovation.

Empowering Culture

Third, to drive an innovation, you need to build an empowering culture. My dad once worked as a professor of engineering in one of private universities in South Korea. One time, he told me that all of his co-worker’s professors were really angry after reading an email from the university president who said: “Find ways to improve the school’s academic ranking without spending any money for it.” For schools to improve its research capacity and its academic rankings, there need to be some kind of investments. Without any of it, the professors were very demotivated even to start the work.

If a company says “Go and try,” but does not empower the team, then there is no way the innovation can happen. Empowering is not just about a funding issue. There can be an emotional empowerment, spiritual empowerment, and mentoring empowerment. Often, at work, when I run into complex situations, I reach out to my co-workers for help, through their mentoring and advises, I often get the best innovative ideas to solve the problems.

So, to drive an innovation in your company, ask these three questions:

  1. Do you have an inspiring vision that is driven by a cause that people will believe in?

  2. Do you have an encouraging culture that encourages your team to try and take the risk>

  3. Do you have an culture that empowers your team, so they can succeed?

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