Innovation needs ideas, ideas need the right culture September 16, 2009 RICCentre By Ingo Koenig By definition innovation can be a creation (a new device or process) resulting from studying and experimenting or the act of starting something for the first time. Innovations are results of knowledge, curiosity and drive. And they start with – an idea. In institutions (companies, government agencies, universities, etc.) innovation can only prosper if the (corporate) culture fosters new ideas. You want more innovation in your company? Well, do you have the right culture to stimulate and encourage people to enthusiastically engage in new ideas to start the innovation? Is making a mistake or a failed trial a learning opportunity or something that scars someone’s career? Are lines of communications open? Does everybody’s opinion count equally in a discussion about new ways? Or are you judging by who (eminence) is saying something compared to what (ideas and evidence) the person is contributing? A friend of ours in the automotive industry recently complained: “I cannot do any brainstorming with my people because as soon as the first idea is thrown into the discussion someone will jump up and explain why this idea cannot work. The brainstorming than dies right away and becomes a “brainmourning””. Can you imagine how many fruitful ideas get lost and how people get frustrated in such an atmosphere? Sounds familiar? Creativity needs some space. Does it need to be chaotic and random? No, there are lots of systematic processes and techniques like brainstorming when applied correctly lead to reliable results. More so, if people are open minded and not judged right away when coming up even with “nuttiest sounding” ideas. Let’s strive for that culture in our organizations.