Creating an Innovation Culture

Jennifer MurphyCorporate Innovation, Leadership & Communication SkillsLeave a Comment

Our newest innovation event is all about learning and experimenting in Innovation. InnovationDojo is a monthly one-hour event where participants explore two tools that support innovation in any organization. Participants leave with enough exposure to try these tools with their organizations. All in less than an hour.

Our July 21st session focused on culture. Culture is one key component of creating a thriving innovation approach in an organization. Imagine you are told to innovate. Then every idea you bring up is shot down because “it doesn’t fit” or “we tried that, and it didn’t work” or “we don’t do those kinds of things here” or some other creativity crushing attitude. It can start to make you feel like you are alone in trying to figure out this “innovation thing” in your organization.

In 2006, a team led by Michael D. Mumford identified thirty-five ways to stifle creativity in the 6 activities involved in creative thought:

  • problem construction
  • information gathering
  • idea evaluation
  • concept selection
  • conceptual combination
  • implementation planning

Creative thought occurs when a situation requires new, novel solutions or at least solutions that are novel to the individual – in other words, innovation. So, we have thirty-five separate ways we can stifle innovation in our organizations – or thirty-five obstacles to avoid. Organizations need tools to assist in this effort. Read the full article here.

Fourteen years after these thirty-five impediments were identified we are still routinely addressing two in the problem construction realm when we work with innovation clients. Both satisficing and a priori framing, are frequently presented as challenges to innovation in organizations. When we satisfice, we apply what is readily available to describe the problem even though it is not the ideal way to frame it to enable solutions. A priori framing is when we define the problem to fit with familiar models. In other words, even if the problem or opportunity is unique – we make it fit what we know. Talk about stifled creativity!

These are challenges that reside at both the individual and organizational levels. In our July InnovationDojo, we explored two ways (and their variations) to confront the thinking and behaviors in your organization. These tactics allow the organization to bring the satisficing, a priori, and other behaviors to the forefront where they can be addressed by action and follow-through. Our participants left with new tools for their innovation kit and fresh connections for their network and their intrapreneurial thought processes.

Intrapreneurial mindset and behaviors are uniquely qualified to respond to innovation challenges. The Intrapreneurs in your organization are those individuals who will help you overcome blocks and foster innovation to solve your most pressing problems and capitalize on growth opportunities. They embody an entrepreneurial mindset, but you are lucky enough to have them in your organization. Intrapreneurs tend to be passionate about bringing the best out of any team they are part of – let them loose and see what happens.

The cool thing is intrapreneurs are natural problem-solvers and dissatisfied with the status quo already – no matter what it is. Intrapreneurs will detect a team attempting to pursue more of the same through satisficing or a priori framing, they will step in to introduce innovative methods to address the issue – preventing stagnation. Your Intrapreneurs become the antidote to stifled creativity.

Celebrate these members of your organization and encourage their rebellion against the status quo – join them! Organizations will tap into increased creative resources to address challenges and opportunities for growth. Employees will experience increased engagement as you allow them to apply their strengths in building organizational capacity.

One thing you can do is attend and encourage the other intrapreneurs in your organization to join you for our August InnovationDojo focused on Strategy. We will explore tools around disruption and strategy using a participant nominated topic. Come prepared with some ideas and be ready to interact. Limited to the first 10 people to register!

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