Why should we care about company culture and how it can help you accelerate the speed of innovation?

Companies who are seen as innovative managed to successfully transform businesses in a short period of time. Companies like Adobe, Alibaba, and AirBnB, have learned to implement agile principles at all levels of the organisation shifting their culture to accelerate innovation.

They did this by:

  • Shifting away from complicated approval processes
  • Allowing better collaboration between those who make decisions and those who do the work
  • Developing empowered teams to make decisions at each stage of their production process
  • Applying an iterative approach to decision-making processes, which means taking small steps, measuring them, receiving feedback, and adapting to it.

Thus, to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, businesses must keep up with the latest software development trends and find ways to innovate more than ever. But how can companies encourage their employees to find better ways of working that enables innovation to speed up?

The fact remains that, innovation and continuous improvement have become increasingly important factors to organisational performance and long-term survival. This can only happen with the right company culture – because if the culture isn’t right, then your staff will not feel empowered, their creativity will lack and innovation will suffer.

Do you encourage employees to come forward and enable them them to implement their great ideas (or bad ones)? Or is there fear and lack of trust that stops them from flourishing? Are there numerous layers that need to be passed through which delay the process of innovation? By that time an idea is ready to implment, your biggest competitor has already implemented that great idea and saw early traction with it.

What does all this mean? It means if organisations want to be ahead of the competitive curve, then they need to facilitate a culture which allows for innovation. Because the bottom line is, without the right culture, there will be no environment that supports and encourages innovation.

Great leaders of organisations that are innovative actually realise that a culture that encourages innovation is not simply beneficial to a company’s bottom line either. It is also something that both leaders and employees value in their workplace. By implementing a structure of practises and strategies that integrate innovation principles within an organisation, innovation culture fosters creativity. It abandons traditional methods in favour of sharpening perceptions toward new discoveries.

As a result, developing and maintaining a workplace culture that encourages innovation is critical to an organisation’s success.

What is an innovative culture?

Forbes have covered this definition wonderfully: They say that innovative cultures are generally portrayed as great places to work and ones which beat their competition with new advances. They are distinguished by an eagerness to experiment and an openness for failure. They are perceived as psychologically safe, extremely collaborative, and non-hierarchical. According to their own research, these behaviours lead to improved innovative performance. However, while innovative cultures are preferred and most leaders say they know what they involve, they are difficult to establish and sustain.

Examples of an organisation culture which encourages innovation: Tesla

People at Tesla are constantly trained to push the boundaries of productivity and creativity. It rewards continuous innovation and continuously motivates every employee to take responsibility and accountability for their jobs as well as the overall performance of the company.

In fact, everyone is firmly urged to think like they own the company in order to solidify a mind-set that continues to sustain innovation and business growth.

Example of organisational culture turnaround: Microsoft

Microsoft Corporation is a forerunner in the PC era. However, despite its rapid popularity in the 2000s, it has been overshadowed by other brands that have taken away the spotlight at the pinnacle of technological advancements.

What went wrong?

As time passed, Microsoft’s culture became stagnant and lacklustre due to bureaucratization and individualism.

This changed when Satya Nadella took over as CEO of Microsoft, the company’s culture shifted dramatically. It increased the company’s interaction with existing and potential customers, giving them the impression that their success is an important part of Microsoft’s goal.

Furthermore, such changes prompted the company to launch and promote new products and business models. Employees were urged to learn and develop new skills in order to better understand the company’s product advancements.

It was a culture that encouraged innovation, empathy, humility, purpose, and development.

Is DevOps the culture for innovation?

One way to ensure your team is remaining competitive and is able to hasten the speed of innovation is through adopting the DevOps culture.

DevOps, which arose from the agile software development movement, puts a strong emphasis on communication, integration, collaboration, and automation, while measuring collaboration between software developers and IT operations, as well as other IT professionals within an organisation.

DevOps represents a cultural shift.  It is not enough to simply implement agile planning, automated testing, or continuous delivery, though these practises are critical. DevOps culture is all about developing a shared understanding between developers and operations, as well as sharing responsibility for the software they create. Increasing transparency, communication, and collaboration across development, IT/operations, and “the business” is one way to accomplish this.

The most obvious and significant benefit of adopting a DevOps culture is more frequent and high-quality software releases. This improves not only company performance but also employee satisfaction.

According to the book “Accelerate: Building and Scaling High-Performing Technology Organizations,” a DevOps culture fosters high levels of trust and collaboration, which leads to higher quality decision making and even higher levels of job satisfaction.

How to assess culture (checklist for building an as-is picture)

Before beginning DevOps from the ground up, it is critical to assess your current systemic issues, technical debt, and software delivery ecosystem limitations. This brings all resources on the same page in terms of understanding costs and intended efficiency gains. It also tells you where you stand and what needs to be fixed.

There is no way to know if your organisation is ready to meet DevOps demands without an accurate assessment. Without an assessment, it is impossible to identify the pain points and prioritise the list of changes that are required.

Check Out Our Chart to Assess your Company Culture

What characteristics are common in a culture which promotes innovation?

As previously discussed, in order to accelerate innovation, a culture of innovation must exist, as well as an environment that encourages creativity and removes barriers to its success. It has been established in many papers that an appropriate culture fosters product innovation.

Martins and Terblanche , supported by Martins’ organisational culture model, develop a proposal to explain the specific determinants of cultures that promote innovation and creativity in organisations. These authors consider five factors:

  • Strategy: Individual understanding and appropriation of the mission and vision, as well as goals and objectives, is emphasised in strategy.
  • Structure: Organisational values are reflected in structure. Thus, the structure’s flexibility, freedom, collaborative work, decision-making speed, empowerment, and teamwork are facilitators of innovation. The structure must be flat to speed up decision making.
  • Support Mechanisms: Support mechanisms such as rewarded behaviour, the use of information technology in processes, and human management practises can all help to boost innovation and creativity.
  • Behaviours to promote innovation: Error management, encouragement of new idea generation, fair idea evaluation, support for curiosity, risk-taking, experimentation, reduced control, encouragement of competition, a positive attitude toward change, tolerance and constructive conflict management, and constructive confrontation are all examples of behaviours that promote innovation.
  • Communication: Finally, open, transparent, and trust-based communication promotes the idea that disagreement is acceptable, which influences innovation.

How culture affects speed of innovation

Organisational culture is regarded as a critical factor in both promoting and stifling innovation. While ad-hocratic and flat cultures can promote the development of new products or services, hierarchical or bureaucratic cultures can stifle product innovation.

At Digital Dom, we help enterprises to speed up the speed of innovation. We’re an agile software delivery company working with ambitious companies who want to stay one step beyond the trends.

Our software engineers are at hand to help speed up the software development process to move to a new platform and on-board a team with future tech skills.

Get in touch with our experienced, proven team and take the next vital steps towards creating a culture of innovation within your organisation today.

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