Do You Have a Culture of Innovation?-Part One

Do you have a culture of innovation?  Let’s talk about it and find out.  In the book Intrapreneuring in Action, the authors developed 19 traits of companies that have a culture of innovation.  This will be part one of a five-part series.

I’ve begun this entire intrapreneur series because some companies have to pivot because of COVID19, and I want to add value to their journey.  Some companies are more prepared to pivot to new products and services than others.

It isn’t about company size, it’s about the culture that exists.  Even creaky old GM could pivot to making ventilators for the fight against the pandemic, with the help of a smaller company.  Let’s see if you have a culture of innovation.


1.  Vision

A compelling vision needs to be presented by leadership for what it requires to survive.  People will not get fired up trying to make sure the CEO maintains his $20M in annual salary.  Present a vision that will excite and engage people.

Why do you have to pivot?  What are you pivoting to?  Who will benefit from your new offering?  These are questions that need to be answered in the vision.  Admit you might not know all the answers this second but ask for employees to help to figure it out and share the importance.

2.  Risk tolerance

What is your company’s tolerance for risk?  How many resources and money are you willing to risk for this new venture?  Maybe your back is against the wall and you have no option but to risk it all.  Maybe the pandemic situation will allow you to break through barriers of risk that existed before.

There seem to be many situations where the need has overcome a low-risk tolerance.  Especially in government agencies.  Telemedicine?  I’m sure there was very little risk tolerance for telemedicine before.  Now it is becoming an everyday practice.

Carryout alcoholic drinks from restaurants. At least in Colorado where I live, you can get carryout drinks from restaurants.  Who would have thought that would ever happen?

3.  Intrapreneurial support

How well do you provide a structure for the employees willing to step up as intrapreneurs?  How will they be treated if what they try isn’t successful?  Will the institutional memory be long or short about what they tried?  Will they be celebrated regardless of the outcome?

It goes back to risk tolerance and if you have a culture of innovation.

4.  Sr. Leaders and managers who sponsor

How many Sr. leaders and managers raise their hands when intrapreneurs ask for sponsors?  Sponsorship will make or break your intrapreneurial efforts.  Does your culture reward sponsors or discourage risk-taking?  An easy way to measure is how many different leaders and managers are sponsoring intrapreneurial efforts.

If the same leaders are sponsoring all the teams, you don’t have a good culture of innovation.

These are the first four of nineteen elements to evaluate if you have a culture of innovation.  We will cover four each week until we have them covered.

As always, it is an honor to serve you, and I hope that you and your company are getting better every day!

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