How to Create a Culture of Innovation

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Focus on Creation

Entrepreneurial organizations require risk taking and bold initiatives, which demands an environment characterized by equality, security, and lack of control.

When Michael Sikorsky, the engaging CEO of Robots & Pencils, is faced with an employee breaking a rule, he is more likely to challenge “why do we have a rule” than concern himself with the employee's behavior. The point is to be respectful of one another and focused on creating new apps, not following a bunch of rules.

Businesses fail. Research indicates that over 50 percent of new firms fail within five years, and 75 percent are gone within 10 years after that. So what is different about the firms that survive? They are successful in recreating themselves, in continuing to engage entrepreneurial thinking on an equal footing with strategy. In other words, they bust the chains of staid thinking. They encourage their people to find ideas that can lead to new opportunities.

So where do great ideas come from? Many believe that there are only certain creative people and then there are the rest of us. Nonsense. There are certainly some people who are more creative than the norm, but if we want firms to develop and exploit entrepreneurial opportunities, the first step is recognizing that opportunities come from everyday people.

To foster this kind of entrepreneurial thinking, the key is to establish a corporate culture that accepts failure and rewards effort and experimentation, so that everyone within the organization is comfortable applying an entrepreneurial mindset to their work.

It takes time and discipline to change a corporate culture, and while there is no magic formula for success, there are a few key markers that must occur along the journey. In this slideshow, Jim Dewald, author of Achieving Longevity: How Great Firms Prosper Through Entrepreneurial Thinking, identifies some of the proven systems and processes management can implement to support entrepreneurial thinking and innovation.

Jim Dewald is the author of Achieving Longevity: How Great Firms Prosper Through Entrepreneurial Thinking. He is the dean of the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business and an associate professor in strategy and entrepreneurship. Prior to entering academe, he was active in the Calgary business community as the CEO of two major real estate development companies and a leading local engineering consulting practice, and president of a tech-based international real estate brokerage company.


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