Brands need a culture of innovation in order to survive

There’s no getting away from the fact that we live in an era of unprecedented change. The population is growing exponentially, technology is opening up mind-blowing possibilities, customers expect so much more and we see innovative brands outwitting and snatching market share from those stuck in the past.

Innovative brands come in all shapes and sizes, varying from the crowd-funded start-ups to the forward-thinking corporates. These visionary and purpose-driven brands shake up the market by challenging traditional thinking. This enlightened generation of brands look beyond making a profit, resonate with their audiences on a deeper level, and provide rich experiences that reshape our world.

Innovation starts with culture, it helps brands achieve sustainable growth and competitive advantage. In this article, we’ll explore some approaches to unlocking a culture of innovation.

Innovation is hard

The ability to innovate is something most organisations find difficult, you can’t just say you innovate and expect the magic to happen. If you want to innovate, you have to foster a culture of innovation; the difficulty lies in harnessing this mindset in your workforce.

Building a culture of innovation

Find your purpose — A shared purpose can have a profound effect and will inspire your employees, it will help them feel part of something more. The process of doing something valuable and contributing to something worthwhile is a powerful motivating force. This positive mindset and behaviour will naturally foster a culture of innovation.

Break down the barriers — Hierarchy and internal silos can cause barriers to innovation if employees don’t feel they can come forward with ideas. Create a platform for your employees and encourage collaboration.

The will to improve — Employees offer a rich source of innovation but they will never reach their full potential if they are afraid of failure. The essence of creativity and innovation is the ‘will to improve’, organisations must accept failure as an important part of learning and progression.

Experiment — The level of innovation within any organisation, heavily depends on ‘design thinking’ or the experimentation of ideas and concepts. Employees must be encouraged to build prototypes, question assumptions and iterate in order to uncover new opportunities for products and services.

Lead by example — Whilst many leaders understand innovation as a driver of growth, few of them consider it as part of the senior-leadership team’s agenda. Failure to practice what you preach will leave employees feeling frustrated and demotivated. Employees are more likely to innovate when they see how highly it is valued by those at the top of the organisation.