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How do you establish a positive culture of innovation?

You improve your innovation culture if your employees MAY, CAN and WANT to have ideas. Creativity alone is not enough to formulate good ideas and pursue them to market maturity. This requires special know-how. Read in this blog post what measures can help you to improve the innovation culture within your company and how you can empower your staff to have ideas.

The following competencies are necessary to strengthen the know-how - the CAN.

You have already clearly defined what innovation means for your company in concrete terms and from which employees you expect impulses for it in the first stage - the MAY. In the second phase, the aim is to strengthen the know-how - i.e. the CAN. The following competencies are necessary for this:

1) Formulate and evaluate ideas

Good ideas do not depend on chance. There are numerous methods with which creative concepts can be developed in a targeted manner. Brainstorming is the classic. But also with the Osborn checklist, ideas for new products, processes or business models can be found systematically. In addition, there are many other tools with which you can stimulate the creativity of your employees. At the same time, it is important to evaluate ideas at the earliest possible stage. 

2) Managing the innovation project

Ideas are the raw material for innovations. There are still countless hurdles to overcome before a creative concept reaches market maturity. The management of innovation projects is so complex because internally learned tracks have to be left. Trampled paths do not lead to innovations. True doer qualities and a certain degree of creativity when choosing new paths, but also accuracy are an absolute must. Because: Not completely processed to-do lists, postponed appointments or incomplete protocols have already put an end to numerous promising ideas.

3) Moderating the process from idea to market entry

Innovation always has a lot to do with emotion. For our own ideas we all develop an intimate love that makes us blind. That's why we want to present our own flashes of inspiration in the best possible way. The problem is that your staff will include both gifted salespeople for your own cause and introverted colleagues. To ensure that only the best and not the best-presented concepts are pursued, professional moderation is required. Because only if the moderator does not contribute the content himself, it is guaranteed that the focus remains on the facts. A neutral moderation accompanies the innovation process from the idea to market entry, because it helps to overcome the numerous hurdles with purely factual arguments.

4) Know the strengths and weaknesses of innovation methods

From contract R&D to the Lead User method to the TRIZ method - there are many ways to generate innovations. In order to find the most suitable one for your own company, the concrete goal and the current situation, you do not have to master every single tool. It is sufficient to understand the main features, strengths and weaknesses of each method. Because then you can decide on a tool and also engage external service providers who have specialized in the method of your choice.


More minds also deliver more ideas

How your training program will look like depends first of all on whether you want to entrust the majority or only a small group of your staff with innovation activities. Keep in mind that your employees' creativity is a resource that is already available to you and therefore relatively inexpensive. In addition, employee innovations generate a number of other benefits for your company. On the other hand, sifting out non-relevant concepts also involves a certain amount of effort.

Basic know-how for many - special knowledge for a few

The first step is a basic training course in which the participants learn to formulate and evaluate ideas. You should offer these seminars to as many employees as possible. Because the higher the number of participants, the greater the creative power and also the number of different perspectives, and thus also the diversity of generated ideas. Such workshops can also reveal which employees can and want to play which role in the innovation process. You might even find someone with the skills for an internal innovation manager. In any case, you can design the further training program based on the first training measure and your own requirements. Because it does not make sense to train your entire staff in moderation, project management or methodological knowledge.

Many roads lead to Rome

There are many ways in which you can build up all of these skills internally. Here are a few approaches to help you make your decision:

  • You have some employees from as many different departments as possible attend external seminars. These employees then train their colleagues themselves in further steps. This train-the-trainer approach has the advantage that the colleagues trained by external trainers can break down the content exactly to your internal needs and thus pass on tailor-made content to their colleagues.
  • You carry out one or more innovation projects together with an external service provider. This partner also trains some of your employees at the same time. These can then assume the important roles, such as moderation or project management for future innovation projects. This method is recommended if a special innovation method - such as the Lead User Method - covers your needs particularly well and you use this tool very often.
  • Train a group of your employees in project management, moderation and methodological knowledge. All three areas never have anything to do with the individual innovation project in terms of content and always obey the same quality criteria. You can then implement this group as an internal service point that supports the entire company in innovation projects.

Which competencies your training program should convey also always depends on how often you carry out innovation projects. A basic training course that teaches your staff to formulate and evaluate ideas better should definitely be part of your program. The aim here is to make better use of the internally available raw material for innovations. You can also outsource project management, moderation and methodological competence to external service providers. The advantages: This partner is very experienced and neutral in all three areas.

Training: strategically improving a culture of innovation

The depth of the training program on improving a culture of innovation can vary. What is recommended, therefore, is to evaluate the existing culture of innovation, to derive measures from it, and then to start the training.

We would be delighted to support you with the next steps towards a positive culture of innovation.


Daniel Zapfl

With his comprehensive experience in holistic innovation management, Daniel brings valuable insights and best practices from various industries to your innovation project. He boldly and disruptively challenges conventional ways of thinking. As a TRIZ-certified sparring partner, Daniel will support you with creative solution-finding in a reliable and structured manner. More critical than the most discerning customer, he always has an eye on the big picture.

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