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Tools To Build An Innovation-Lead Culture

Just because innovation cannot be pre-empted, you never know when, or who the next big idea will come from, doesn’t mean you can’t create a workplace that anticipates the next big idea.

In her TED Talk, Catherine Courage explained that “environment is the foundation of creative thinking”, therefore, if you can create a workplace that encourages out-of-the-box thinking, you will find your employees will feel that they can pitch their ideas, no matter how strange they may seem off-the-cuff. It is this nurturing of a workplace culture that was encouraged in Cris Beswick, Derek Bishop, and Jo Geraghty’s book Building a Culture of Innovation.

They explain that “innovation must solve real-world problems”, a statement which has been supported by not only Simon Sinek, who states that “innovation is the application of technology, or engineering or something to solve a problem”, but also economist, Carlotta Perez, who in an interview for Harvard Business Review’s podcast, said “normally innovation happens on certain tracks, with every type of revolution, there is a sequence of similar things but better and better and better”.

With this in mind, Beswick, Bishop and Geraghty proposed a six-part framework that any organization can use to shape a more innovative culture:

1. Understanding Where the Organization Is Today

2. Building an Innovation Leadership Team

3. Designing the Future

4. Communicate and Engage People Consistently

5. Build and Innovation Aptitude and Detailed Roadmap

6. Embed and Sustain a Culture of Innovation

This is, always, much easier said than done.

The first stage that was identified was to understand where the organisation is today, this can be achieved through a volume of analytics; looking at employee satisfaction, revenue, where they stand in direct comparison to their competitors etc. By identifying where you as an organisation you can work out what ought to be done in order to improve the company in the future, and inspire employees to come up with the next big thing.

Once this has been done, an Innovation Leadership Team is to be created; this group of people, as described by Beswick in his online summary of the book, “have to be prepared to change their mind-set so they think innovation, live innovation and breathe innovation into every decision. The innovation strategy has to be aligned with the organisation’s own unique position in the marketplace.”

Following on from establishing the team, you can begin the next stage of the process; designing the future. Describing this part of this journey in such a way may appear daunting, but, it has great rewards. Having an idea of the direction you wish to take is essential; but of course, it is equally as important to remember that your plans do not need to be concrete, instead, you can use them as a guide. Designing the future, is imperative; as established in Peter Biddle’s 2013 TED Talk: Plucky Rebels: Being Agile In An Un-agile Place, which explored software development. Regardless of Biddle’s focus being agility in its original form; because “if you create [the future], you’ll get it right.”

The next stage of creating an innovation driven company culture was identified to be related to engaging your employees constantly. But, just like the previous point, this may appear daunting.

Daniel Pink, author of The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, said that in order to retain employee engagement, an employee needs to find their-self feeling like a valued member of the team, due to autonomy at work, mastery of their craft and skills or the feeling of purpose whilst doing their job. This idea was supported by Chris White, who explained in his YouTube video; Three Ways To Create A Work Culture That Brings Out The Best In Employees, that by allowing employees to be heard within their work environment, they will be more engaged in their company, find themselves feeling valued as a member of their team, and will form stronger ties to their company.

The fifth stage that Beswick, Bishop and Geraghty suggest in their book, is to build an innovation aptitude, and a detailed roadmap. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when you are looking to create an environment that nurtures innovation. However, Beswick stresses in his online summary of the book that “if [leaders] don’t do anything, you’ll get nothing; but if you do something, even if you don’t get what you aim for you will get a return which might even be a game changer.” He goes on to explain that “Building innovation aptitude requires leadership, vision and the early input from the HR team”, and you should focus on nurturing innovation in your workplace when creating this roadmap instead of dedicating time and energy to statistics. After all, you cannot quantify the cogs turning in the heads of your employees’ heads as they go through the motions.

Lastly, you have to work to embed this idea of innovation into the foundations of your workplace so it can grow and be sustained as your company grows within the current climate. In order to do this, you must be firm in your standings. Anna Sandberg, Head of Continuous Improvement & Change at Product Creation, at Volvo Cars, said in her interview with Forbes that “somehow people need to understand that this is the direction that we in the company will go and they need to understand why.” She elaborated to explain that by communicating that the management team were committed to implementing a change, meant anyone who resisted this transformation would find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place, therefore encouraging them to make the journey to this new perspective with the company, lest they be lost.

If Catherine Courage is right, and the environment is truly the key to innovation, you should find that by making these changes in your space that there have been changes in your employees; in their perspectives, mindsets, perhaps their confidence. The cogs may already be turning, they’re finding their way to the path that will allow them to evolve and elevate the company. Listen to them. You never know what ideas are inside the heads of the colleagues that don’t always raise their hands, you don’t need to be outspoken to craft brilliant ideas, you just need to have the tools.

Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (, is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.

He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.

The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.

To book a consultation, or for any enquiries, you can contact Arvind via the following email address:

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