Developing an Innovation Driven Culture

We live in a world that is constantly changing, and the workplace is no exception. In fact, with the rate that technology is evolving, the workplace is changing faster than ever. In order to cope with the changes of today it is essential for companies to innovate, and those that don’t become obsolete. A successful and lasting culture of innovation must be driven by the leaders and decision-makers of a company and executed by employees at every level. The following methodology provides a basic outline for developing a culture of innovation.

Step 1. Analyze commonly used work procedures and isolate redundant processes that create excessive workload. Look into common and repeating errors to identify the processes that they stem from. Keep the 80/20 rule in mind when doing this, which states 80% of problems come from 20% of causes.

Step 2.  Perform an efficiency audit guided by these questions:

  • Where did this process originate?
  • What is the desired outcome of this process?
  • Why are we using it?
  • What problems are stemming from the current process?
  • Where are the bottlenecks?
  • Where is waste occurring?

Often, inefficient processes are not altered because they still meet the need they were originally designed for. Guided by the questions above, you can identify efficiency gaps and waste in existing processes.


Step 3.  Encourage employees to develop solutions and improvements to the pain points identified in Step 2 through innovation and active problem-solving. This step begins with the leaders and decision-makers of a company encouraging innovation and positive change. If employees do not feel comfortable and supported when they challenge the status quo, they will be demotivated to take initiative and improve the way things are currently done. Below are several ideas of how this can be accomplished.

  • Make leaders and decision-makers accessible to employees
  • Have managers continuously update teams about opportunities for innovation and newly available tools
  • Have resources and tools available for use during work hours
  • Offer educational opportunities such as classes, seminars, online resources, and competitions
  • Demand learning and make it a requirement for all employees
  • Incentivize learning and innovation by rewarding it with awards and recognition

Step 4.  Test and implement innovative solutions rapidly. Due to the law of diminishing intent, the more time that passes between an idea being formed and its implementation, the smaller the chance that it will be put into place at all. For this reason, it is essential to validate the innovative solutions employees develop and put them into place as soon as possible. The points below can be used to drive implementation.

  • Draft simple steps to get started with implementation
  • Share innovative ideas across teams and gain support
  • Track progress and share results to increase accountability and drive future innovation

Organizations that do not adopt a culture of innovation will lag behind progressive, innovative companies. Today, it is essential for companies to analyze the processes and procedures they have and identify weaknesses. These weaknesses then need to be resolved through innovation that should be encouraged by leaders of the company and developed through employees at every level. Agile companies drive innovation and make learning available to their employees. An organization that adapts to change easily will better implement viable ideas and solutions. By following these steps, an organization will maximize their opportunity to remain relevant and competitive in today’s rapidly changing market.

Cate Bahner

Cate Bahner
Cate Bahner is IBM's US GTS-IS cognitive sourcing lead. * The postings on this site are the author's own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Cate Bahner

Josh Abt

Josh Abt
Josh Abt is supplier relationship manager, U.S. Technical Services, IBM Finance and Operations. * The postings on this site are the author's own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Cate Bahner

John Dinkins

John Dinkins
John Dinkins is procurement professional, US Technical Services, IBM. * The postings on this site are the author's own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Cate Bahner

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