Picking up from where we left off yesterday, I’d like to share a couple thoughts about encouraging a culture of innovation within an organization based on my industry experiences.
3) How do you talk about innovation as a value in your company? Is “innovation” one of those values – explicit or implicit – and how do you encourage and support innovation across the organization?
- Innovation at our company is more of an intrinsic value as our 17-year old culture is very employee centered. We focus on hiring A+ players who value culture and bring creativity to execution. Probably the biggest reward our employees have is ownership. Our employee-owned financial structure encourages employees to do the right thing by clients and team members. By bringing creativity and innovation to client challenges and by doing the right thing, the ownership drives a high level of service and reduced risk for our clients.
- One example of how we support innovation in our values is what we focus on when recruiting talent. While we evaluate candidates based on skills and experience and fit for the role, we interview for creativity and innovation, how the consultant will bring innovation to client delivery. We’ll err on the side of hiring someone who is the best cultural fit and brings creativity and passion for innovation before we will hire someone that is the most experienced for the role, yet might be rigid in their approach to solving client problems. A strong culture is tough to maintain as a company grows. This approach demonstrates our commitment to maintain our strong culture.
4) Do you believe that employee engagement is critical to creating a culture of innovation? If yes, how do you measure that engagement? How do you find the ones that aren’t?
- Yes, I believe employee engagement is very critical to creating a culture of innovation. I have heard people referred to as assets before. If you think of that in financial terms, an asset is something on the balance sheet that depreciates over time. At InfoWorks, we consider our people as an investment that grows over time. We encourage and invest in development and training for our employees annually. Then we celebrate new certifications and achievements monthly. We also allow work-life balance and flexibility in completing a task, whether onsite or offsite, as long as the end product is high quality and the client is comfortable with that arrangement. With our employee ownership structure, our employees know first-hand that each of them can make a positive impact by staying engaged.
- We use several ways to monitor engagement, including annual surveys and participation in company meetings. For example, our President will call employees who do not attend company meetings to convey the importance of the meetings. Another way we monitor engagement is by participating annually in external top places to work contests – whether we win or not, it demonstrates our commitment to a high level of engagement, determined by an external source.
Three Key Points to Creating a Culture of Innovation
- Always communicate the why in terms of the collective team benefit or WIFM, what’s in it for them
- Executives walking the talk: Leadership modeling the meaning of values on a consistent basis
- Promoting innovation examples, whether successful or lessons learned for future – versus considering anything a failure