Breaking Barriers to Innovation: A Matrix of Assets and Behaviors to Foster a Culture of Innovation
Thriving organizations don’t happen by chance. They happen by intention (and yes, I know sometimes it just seems like a matter of some luck). But there is enough evidence to support that intentionality plays a part in growing, scaling, and building our organizations for innovation. Neuroscience demonstrates that the capacity of our organizations to take risks largely depends on team members feeling safe, valued, and heard. The strategies that accomplish that type of working environment can be chunked into ways of thinking.
When I think about the natural split of strategies that organizations use to nurture the environment where innovation thrives, there are really two categories, assets and behaviors.
Organizational assets that bolster innovation and those behaviors that work against us (sometimes rather quietly) can be considered in terms of building your culture, managing and operating toward organizational goals, and human capacities. The following Matrix summarizes five categories of potential barriers to innovation, along with assets to overcome each category and behaviors that work against innovation.
When working with leaders, I often use this matrix to get them to consider how they intentionally support and often unintentionally hold back innovation. The following prompts have proven successful as starting points for leaders and teams to identify assets and barriers that help or hinder progress toward organizational innovation:
Culture and mindset:
- How can we reinforce a culture that supports innovation and creativity?
- What motivates and inspires us to pursue innovation?
- How can we build on our team’s strengths to explore new ideas and take calculated risks?
- What can we learn from past failures to improve future innovation efforts?
- What positive outcomes can we envision from our innovation efforts?
- How can we leverage our current resources to support innovation?
- What creative solutions can we develop to overcome resource constraints?
- How can we prioritize our resources to support our most innovative ideas?
- What opportunities exist for us to acquire additional resources to support innovation?
- How can we use innovation to create new resources or generate additional value from existing resources?
- How can we create a more streamlined and efficient innovation process?
- What communication and collaboration tools can we use to support innovation?
- How can we involve external stakeholders in our innovation process to create a more diverse and inclusive approach?
- What opportunities exist for us to experiment with new processes and iterate on our approach?
- How can we celebrate and share our successes to inspire further innovation?
Skill and knowledge barriers:
- What opportunities exist for us to learn and develop new skills and knowledge?
- How can we foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement to support innovation?
- What cross-functional teams or collaborations can we form to share knowledge and build skills?
- How can we stay up-to-date on the latest technology and information relevant to our innovation efforts?
- How can we recognize and celebrate team members’ skills and expertise throughout organizational innovation?
Leadership and management barriers:
- How can we create a clear and compelling vision for our innovation efforts?
- What goals and metrics can we establish to track our progress and measure success?
- How can we provide strong leadership and support to encourage risk-taking and experimentation?
- What recognition and rewards can we offer to celebrate and reinforce innovative behavior?
- How can we create a culture of ownership and accountability among team members for our innovation efforts?
Building a culture of innovation requires intentional effort and a deep understanding of the assets and behaviors that support or hinder progress toward your organizational goals. By using the innovation matrix and the prompts provided, you might be one step closer to having meaningful discussions with your teams to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your culture.
The most important question you can ask is, how does your organizational culture set the stage for innovation?
Addressing these areas can create a more supportive environment that encourages creativity, experimentation, and risk-taking. I hope you can take action toward creating a culture of innovation in your organization. Believe me, when I say it will be time well spent.