Bearing in mind that external context heavily impacts innovation and reciprocally, the intrinsic creativity inherent in the organization defines its ability to adapt to and even shape the environment, we can ask how culture can promote innovation. Does culture hinder or enhance the process of creativity and innovation? The answer is that it simply depends on the norms that are widely held by the organization. If the right type of norms are held and are widely shared then culture can activate creativity. If the wrong culture exists, no matter the effort and good intention of individual trying to promote innovation, few ideas are likely to be forthcoming.

Norms that promote innovation:


Challenge and belief in action
— No obsession with precision
— Emphasis on results
— meet your commitments
— Anxiety about timeliness
— Value “getting things done”
— Hard work is expected and appreciated
— Eagerness to get things done
— cut through bureaucracy
  Freedom and risk-taking
— Freedom to experiment
— challenge the status quo
— Expectation that innovation is part of your job
— Freedom to try things and fail
— Acceptance of mistakes
— allow discussion of “dumb” ideas
Dynamism and future orientation
— forget the past
— Willingness not to focus on the short term
— drive to improve
— Positive attitudes towards change
— Positive attitudes towards the environment
— empower people
— Emphasis on quality
  Organizational structure: autonomy and flexibility
— Decision making responsibility at lower levels
— decentralized procedures
— Freedom to act
— Expectation of action
— Belief that the individual can have an impact
— Delegation
— Quick, flexible decision making, minimize bureaucracy
Trust and openness
— Open communication
— Information sharing
— accept criticism
— Open access
— encourage lateral thinking
— Intellectual honesty
— expect and accept conflict
— accept criticism
— don’t be too sensitive
Cross-functional interaction and freedom
— move people around
— Teamwork
— manage interdependencies
— Flexibility in jobs, budgets, functional areas
  Myths and stories
— Symbolism and action
— build and disseminate stories and myths
Leadership commitment and involvement
— Senior management commitment
— walk the talk
— Declaration in mission / vision
  Award and rewards
— Ideas are valued
— Top management attention and support
— Respect for budding ideas
— Celebration of accomplishments
— Implementation of suggestions
— Encouragement
Innovation time and training
— Built-in resource slack
— Funds
— Time
— Opportunities
— Promotions
— Tools
— Infrastructure
— Continuous training
— encourage lateral thinking
— encourage skills development
  Corporate identification and unity
— Sense of pride
— Willingness to share credit
— Sense of ownership
— eliminate mixed messages
— shared vision and common direction
— build consensus
— Mutual respect and trust
— Concern for the whole organization
External orientation
— adopt customer perspectives
— build relationships with all external faces

Source: “Culture and climate for innovation” by Pervaiz K. Ahmed, European Journal of Innovation Management


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