6 Tips to Innovation Culture
By Josiah Go

Innovation is about having a new way of doing things with commercial success. It targets to satisfy, in a novel way, pain points of customers or non-customers. Many companies like to have more innovation, but are dissatisfied with their efforts. Among others, firms wanting improvement might want to look at their innovation culture. Culture is what people say or do when bosses are away. This is the real norm in a company. 

There are 10 building blocks to innovation: 5 in offering model and another 5 in the operating model of a company. This article will focus on how firms can enhance their innovative culture in order for their people to introduce real innovations not presently available in the marketplace. 

1. Hiring - Recruit people who are non-conformist with uncommon sense, instead of acquiring those with common sense.

2. Training – Create innovation competency by providing tools, frameworks and methods that are duplicable, ending with an annual innovation tournament, instead of passive suggestion box where random ideas are given. This is especially valuable if innovation has been indicated as a core value of a firm. 

3. Idea Channel – Allow employees to have the option to submit to a high-level innovation committee, if their immediate superior would turn down a major proposal which they think has high potential. Do not be limited by the preference (or sometimes, even ignorance) of the immediate supervisor. This will drive the supervisor to a re-assessment of the employees’ proposal.

4. Behavioral Requirement – Establish innovation as a pre-requisite for promotion and merit raise on top of revenue and profit growth. Be careful about re-labelling catch-up project with competition as innovation as they are not.

5. Focus – Mull over business model innovation, instead of just product and process innovation. Only 2% of all innovations is sustainable business model type.

6.  Bottom line – Look into the long-term effect of market penetration, and not just short-term market shares as a key performance indicator.

(Josiah Go is chairman of Mansmith and Fielders Inc. Follow him at
www.josiahgo.com