Culture Chat

And other musings on humanizing the workplace
Culture Eats Innovation for Breakfast Too

Culture Eats Innovation for Breakfast Too

August 21, 2017
Jamie Notter

I wrote ages ago about the false dichotomy inherent in the phrase that culture “eats strategy” for breakfast (or lunch or whatever). Culture and strategy are really two sides of the same coin, and they fundamentally need to be connected effectively (not eating each other). But the underlying implication of the phrase—that culture is probably having a bigger impact than you realize—is certainly true.

And that implication also holds true when it comes to culture and innovation inside organizations. In today’s age of disruption, everyone’s talking about the need for innovation, but too often it stops right there—at talk.

In our culture assessment, we measure 8 individual Building Blocks within the Culture Marker of Innovation. Several of them measure the overall conceptual approach to innovation inside an organization—areas like creativity, inspiration, and future focus. Most of the rest are a little more brass tacks around innovation—experimentation, risk taking (including the acceptability of failure), and beta testing.

So guess what we’re seeing now that we have a couple years’ worth of data from a variety of industries: we’re more talk than action.

The concept-focused Building Blocks are scoring above the overall average from all the companies that we have surveyed to date. They end up on the high end of “contemporary” in our 10-point scale (just under 7.0). But the action-oriented Blocks are coming in a full point below that, ending up well below the average. What does it mean that we feel we are “future focused” but don’t particularly experiment or run beta tests? This is something we ALL need to figure out

We’re in the process right now of pulling together an extensive research report on our data—it should be available some time this Fall. I can’t wait to share it with everyone, because I think it’s going to shine some important light on issues like this one.

Also for those of you in the association world, I’m speaking at .orgCommunity’s “Solutions Day” in just a few weeks in Chicago, and I’ll be sharing some exclusive data around this innovation question and how associations are showing up in the data (and dealing with it in real life). You won’t want to miss it! Register here.

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