If Your Organization Wants to Innovate: Where Does One Start?

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The majority of organizations recognize the need to adopt new practices, methodologies, and strategies to adapt to changing local and international markets. Change within your organization is a process, which starts with recognition, evolves into belief, and then matures into initiatives that lead to a diversified set of innovations.  Recognition alone is not sufficient to deliver impactful results. However, often times, management recognizes the need to change and even attempts to change minor corporate practices with the belief that these minor changes will result in major transformation. Too many times these minor amendments either provide no change or temporary superficial change. A lot of organizations justify minor changes by shying away from the cost associated with major changes thereby choosing to conduct these cost-effective changes and forgetting that these minor changes will be proportionally less effective. The root cause for a lot of organizations failing to move from recognition phase of the need to change to the belief phase is management’s desire to hold on to old practices that have proven to be successful, in contrast to the risk associated with innovation or change. The fact still remains that if your organization wants to achieve greatness or legacy in its industry, management has to let go of certain practices on a regular and continual basis. Management’s belief in this simple fact is the only way recognition for the necessity of change and innovation will evolve into reality. It’s important to differentiate: recognition of change does not necessarily mean the belief in or success of such change (innovation). Does recognition of the need to change imply the recognition of the need to innovate in your organization? What does innovation mean to your organization?


The recognition of a need to change is merely the start of a process of identification. It is identifying where the problem is and why my organization needs change. This process requires the entire organization, led by management and leadership, to ask hard questions concerning their mission statement and business model and basically becoming the harshest critics of the organization. I don’t know of any organization that is capable of carrying such a process: accepting constructive criticism across board except if the organization members believe in the need for change and recognize the only solution is to nurture an innovative culture. Do you know of such an organization?


Belief is a key component of innovation because innovation is the practice of transforming something that is unseen, unknown, and that is not common practice into reality. If belief is lacking in the process of innovation, the process simply fails. Belief starts in your organization from management and leadership. It is evidenced through i) recruitment and development of team members, ii) adaptation and implementation of policies, and finally iii) in the application of systems through integration with your business process. These three components testify for any organization’s belief in its mission, vision and objectives, as well as how innovation is or is not part of the culture.


Initiatives for change, whether incremental or of a more wholistic nature, are recognized as innovations. Only in an organization that lives a culture of innovation, will initiatives of change achieve results that will make a difference in your value chain, P&L, and customers. For an innovation to have impact on your organization, collaboration, belief, and trust are required from the entire organization because these are the key components in the success of any particular innovation. Another key characteristic of a successful initiative is that it does not belong to a particular department within your organization, but that it comes from a common goal of all the members of the organization for that initiative to become a purposeful innovation.


Are the challenges discussed above relevant to your organization?

If you are part of management or leadership in your organization are you willing to challenge your business model, mission, vision, policies, systems, and human resource practices?

Is this process more difficult for a multinational, local, or newly established organization? 


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  • Nadene

    Great article, you have pinpointed the key issues. Change is about shifting away
    from the command and control mindset and nurturing an organizational culture that
    supports learning as an on-going interactive iterative process. Power posturing & Judgement behaviour replaced with
    collective inquisitive inquiry and collaboration.