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How to Create a Corporate Culture of Innovation

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Today, a culture of innovation is the main reason for the success
of many hyper-growth companies like Groupon and Zappos. They use creative
thinking to attack problems of all sizes, while many other companies are too
afraid to use creativity that way. Since we live in a business world that
is changing so rapidly, it's hard to keep up with the competition, so
creativity and innovation are the only things that can truly set you apart.
Creativity and innovation can make you stand out from the
crowd and have become the true currency of success. But, most companies
don't unleash their most valuable resource including creativity, imagination,
and original thinking. Meanwhile, hyper-growth companies take an approach to
fostering creativity at all levels of their organizations, and deploy creative
thinking to attack all problems.
According to Inc.,
here's what you can do to develop a culture of innovation at your company:
Fuel Passion.  With a passionate team and a sense of purpose,
you can accomplish anything. Steve Jobs wanted to "put a ding in the
universe," Whole Foods Market wanted to become the world's leading natural
supermarket retailer, and Pixar wanted to reinvent the animated film industry.
Your purpose must be your own, but the bigger your purpose is, the more passion
it can create. 
Celebrate Ideas.  If you want your team to be creative, you need
to establish an environment that rewards them for doing so. Celebrating
creativity is not only about handing out bonus checks for great ideas' it
should also be celebrated with praise and opportunities.  

Foster Autonomy. According
to a study by Harvard, there is a correlation between people who have the
ability to call their own shots, and the value of their creative output. An
employee who has to run every detail by her boss for approval will become numb
to the creative process. The key is to provide a clear message of what
results you are looking for or what problem you want the team to solve.
Encourage Courage.
Netflix is known as much for its culture as for its innovative business model.
They have built a business that is growing fast by allowing individuals the
freedom to take creative risks without judgment. In fact, they tell their
employees, 'Say what you think, even if it is controversial. Make tough
decisions without agonizing excessively. Take smart risks.  Question
actions inconsistent with our values."
Fail Forward. In
most companies, people are so afraid of making mistakes that they don't pursue
their dreams. For example, James Dyson, the inventor of the Dyson Vacuum
cleaner, "failed" at more than 5,100 prototypes before getting it
just right. Almost every breakthrough innovation in history came after
countless setbacks, mistakes, and "failures." The great innovators weren't
smarter or inherently more talented, but they didn't let setbacks extinguish
their imagination. Failing forward means taking risks and increasing the rate
of experimentation. 
Think Small. A manufacturing
company ITW makes products from industrial packaging to power systems and
electronics to food equipment to construction products. It is a profitable
$16-billion company that is almost 100 years old, but it is in a very traditional
industry. The leaders at ITW believe that being nimble, hungry, and
entrepreneurial are the ingredients for business success, so any time a
business unit reaches $200 million in revenue, the division "mutates"
into two $100 million units. The company would rather have 10 innovative $100
million units than a single, bureaucratic, and $1 billion unit.
Maximize Diversity.
Ziba, an innovation-consulting firm in Portland, maximizes the value of a
diverse workforce. The company's 120 employees are from 18 different
countries and speak 26 languages. According to its president, "genetic
diversity breeds creativity, much like it does with biology." The
company also has an Ambassador Program, which allows employees to spend three
months working in other disciplines, which helps to create an understanding of
another world.

About the Author:
Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and
print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing,
and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR's blogs
including Next Big DesignCustomers 1stDigital Impact, STEAM Accelerator and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business
, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,.
She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where
she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She
can be reached at aciccatelli@iirusa.com. Follow her at @AmandaCicc.

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