Written by Joanne Sacco

The Hard Truth About Innovative Work Cultures

A workplace culture that fosters innovation is empowering. It is also enticing for new talent and helps you retain existing team members.
But today, it seems every company claims to be at the forefront of innovation.
However, being truly innovative is difficult and is actually rare. Those that are real innovators know that it takes a hard-working team plus on-point leadership to create innovative products and services that can reach #viral proportions.
So if you want your business to make Forbes’ most innovative list, here’s what you need to do:
You need a charismatic leader
The rapid-fire nature of the IT industry means those that fail to innovate get left behind. Think about a company that made the best CD or DVD players in the market. If they are not willing to keep innovating their business very soon disappears as technology and trends move forward with or without them.
This applies not just to tech products but also ways of doing business. Successful companies need to keep innovating within their organisation to create company cultures that talent wants to stay with. They also need to innovate across their business model to stay ahead of trends and gain market share.
That’s why your team needs a strong leader at its helm; someone who really understands what innovation means for your specific business and is prepared to guide the company in the direction it needs to go.
Sometimes these decisions are risky and require visionary or highly charismatic leadership.  If you lack leadership of this type, it’s likely you’ll suffer from an oversupply of failed ideas. Or an inability to execute on good ones.
Your leader needs to be able to successfully communicate and define what innovation means to your employees. They also need to be able to help them understand how they can contribute, get buy-in, and apply it in their everyday.
To secure their support…..
You need a first follower
As this video clearly shows, the first follower is vital to getting employees to trust your leadership and get excited about being a part of the changes you want to make. Who could you look to, to be your first follower? Who could be the champion ready to take up the cause of innovation and help you guide the team to greater things?
You need to live and breathe innovation 
Innovative cultures begin with an embedded tone of innovation that is ingrained in all aspects of the business. They refer to it in strategy meetings, incorporate it when budgeting and recruiting new talent, and encourage all employees to engage in the practice. It is not something restricted only to the ‘innovation team’ (actually, they likely don’t even have one!).
You need time, money and people
Developing new products and/or ways of doing things requires resources – time, money and people. But so many companies overlook these essentials or fail to provide enough of them when pursuing innovation in their work culture.
Your creative people should also be encouraged to play key roles in setting the organisation’s objectives, focus areas, and core capabilities.
You need to break down barriers
Take a look at your organisational structure.
If you have too many levels, managers, departments or teams, it’s likely people are only working within a small, specific area. Removing some of these structural barriers fosters greater collaboration; a key ingredient in developing innovative IT solutions.
You should be acting on strategies that allow the innovators in your company to bypass barriers or hierarchies that can blunt creativity.
So what role can you play when it comes to fostering real innovation in your organisation?

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