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LEAD Innovation Blog

Read our latest articles on innovation management and innovation in a wide range of industries.

Date: 04-Oct-2018
Posted by: Angela HENGSBERGER
Category: Innovation contest

How to promote your innovation culture with an Innovation Contest


In the minds of your employees there are many good ideas hidden, some of which can form the basis for future cash-cows. But this valuable resource can only come to light within the right corporate culture. Read in this blog article how you can promote the culture of innovation with an Innovation - in five dimensions.

Fighting for good employees has never been easy. But in recent years it has become even harder. In the competition for clever and creative minds, companies often advertise with a positive corporate culture. However, this does not only play an important role in the War of Talents. Rather, it is the basis for making use of a resource that will play an increasingly important role in the future. The creativity of your own team. This enables you to increase your own innovative strength and at the same time increase your competitiveness.


Search internally and externally for new information

This tool can be much more effective than the cooperation with start-ups, corporate venturing or open innovation. In most cases, there is also less effort involved in using the ideas of one's own workforce for innovation than in working with external partners. In addition to many other advantages, you will face a number of disadvantages if your innovation management relies solely on internal resources. They should therefore not regard cooperation with partners and the use of their own ideas as competing concepts, but should go both ways.

Paper Establishment of an innovation culture


Corporate culture determines innovation management

But what is a corporate or innovation culture? Culture describes the commonality of a group. That can be clothing or language. Corporate culture, on the other hand, is a system of values, orientation patterns, behavioral norms, ways of thinking and acting that a company's workforce has learned and accepted. The corporate culture determines how employees perform their daily tasks, make and enforce decisions, resolve and resolve conflicts and deal with external persons. The culture of innovation is therefore to be understood as the way in which employees of a company develop innovations together. Your corporate culture has a strong influence on your innovation management.


Changing the culture is long and difficult

The approach "You don't get paid for thinking" describes an innovation culture in which only one or a selected circle of employees can, can and therefore want to have ideas. Such a streamlined organizational structure and the associated corporate culture may well have its advantages. However, it relies on the fact that only one or a few people determine which innovations are good for their own companies.

At the latest since digitisation has made it possible for new competitors with alternative solutions to emerge from nowhere and oust established players from the market, it is better to rely on the knowledge and creativity of as many as possible. Within such a corporate culture, as many employees as possible should be allowed to have, be able and willing to have ideas.

Many companies find it extremely difficult to say goodbye to the hierarchical corporate culture and to a culture of innovation that promotes innovation. The US economist with Viennese roots, Peter F. Drucker, summed up how difficult this is with his words "culture eats strategy for breakfast".


The four phases of the Innovation Contest

There are various measures to achieve this feat in the end. An Innovation Contest is a measure which can develop its positive effect quite quickly. This internal pitch for new ideas and innovation concepts consists of four steps:

  • At the start, the company communicates the topic, the goal, the target group and the schedule to the employees.
  • In their own workshops, employees develop their ideas in teams, formulate concepts and select the best ones themselves.
  • A mentoring program helps the participants to prepare the concepts and business plans for presentation at the pitch in the best possible way.
  • At the pitch, employees present their innovation concepts. The management board or another committee then chooses the winner from these top ideas.


An Innovation Contest enhances the innovation culture in 5 dimensions

The direct benefit of the Innovation Contest is clear: you get a wealth of ideas. With such a competition, however, you can also raise your corporate culture and thus your innovation culture to a new level. The four-stage process ensures that anyone who wants to take part in the internal competition can, can and wants to have ideas. With an innovation contest you can increase your innovation culture in five dimensions.

  • target

Through the competition, you communicate clearly to all your employees what the company stands for and where you are going. This knowledge is not available to a surprisingly large number of employees, such as the "Deutsche Markenmonitor".

  • estimation

An innovation contest is always an expression of appreciation of the highest management levels towards the entire workforce. Because the message of such a pitch is always very clear:"We need your ideas, because we are convinced that they will give us a competitive advantage and ensure the growth of the company".

  • communication

The competition also stimulates communication among your employees. First of all, it is an important issue and secondly, cross-departmental or even cross-regional teams are forming to jointly develop new ideas. This positive effect on internal communication is particularly strong in international groups, where the individual units hardly ever come into contact with each other in their day-to-day business.

  • creativity

In the workshops, employees learn creativity techniques that they can use in the future to generate ideas. Ideas that simplify unimportant everyday processes also increase the efficiency of your business. And the next Innovation Contest results in more and better ideas.

  • entrepreneurship

The Innovation Contest is not just about having ideas. Your employees must also be able to sell them. You will learn these skills such as presentation techniques or the creation of a business plan in the mentoring program. This know-how, coupled with the competitive spirit, makes your employees Intracorporate Entrepreneurs, who have to prove themselves in the fourth stage of the Innovation Contest (Pitch). These "in-house entrepreneurs" have enough initiative, creativity and economic thinking to drive projects forward and successfully complete them with virtually no specifications. In short, they form their team into the very forces that companies are feverishly looking for in the labour market.


Conclusion: How to promote your innovation culture with an Innovation Contest

Lack of ideas becomes life-threatening for companies. Fierce competition and digitalisation demand innovations that are not only what developers call them, but also represent innovations for the market or the entire industry. With an Innovation Contest you achieve that your employees can have ideas (objectives, appreciation, communication), can (creativity) and want (entrepreneurship). In this way, you can promote your innovation culture - quickly and sustainably at the same time.

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Born and raised in Vienna. Since 2012 she has been in charge of Business Development at LEAD Innovation with the functions marketing, sales and communication.

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