Creating a culture of innovation is the most impactful thing to do for the success of your business, but it is also the most difficult. And the path that leads to it is long and strewn with a multitude of traps that can kill in an instant your will to innovate. How can these pitfalls be avoided by sustainably developing the culture of innovation?
In this article, divided into two parts, I will share with you 6 secrets from my own experience. And they all have one thing in common: the Montessori education.
When you think "culture of innovation", what image do you have in mind?
That of a hipster straight from Silicon Valley, who is riding a unicorn and throwing dollars like toilet paper because he made a $ 1M capitalization with his company? Or that of an open office with walls filled with post-its, ball pools as meeting rooms, and a beautiful toboggan to reach the cafeteria?
If this is the kind of representation you have of a culture of innovation, congratulations, you have fallen into the trap of the innovation theater!
Many companies strive to be at the forefront of innovation by creating innovation accelerators or innovation labs, by redesigning their workspaces and introducing trendy words such as "4.0", "pivot", "scale", "growth hacking", etc. Basically, they apply the formula "fake it until you make it".
But here's the problem: they never get to the "make it" step. And creating a culture of innovation is not just about image, budget or material. It is mainly a question of the change of culture, of collaborators to train and support daily, as well as behaviors to be valued. And everything must be deeply anchored in the execution of your vision.
So do not be trapped in the innovation theater and invest a lot in supporting your employees so that they can concretely build the future of your business.
When I analyzed the innovation culture of different companies, I quickly realized the following situation: 70% of employees believe that innovation is crucial to the success of the company while only 20% of them really feel involved in the innovation effort. Woaaa! What a gap!
And the most interesting in this story are the three main reasons behind this situation:
- Lack of time to innovate
- Lack of support in exploring new ideas
- Lack of incentives for innovation
And all this is due to the simple fact that the innovation process is seen as a black box for the average person. Including directors and managers. Indeed, we know that we have ideas as inputs and innovation as output. But how to move from an idea to an innovation that is viable, feasible and attractive? How to identify critical hypotheses and validate them? How to progress your idea according to the learnings of each test?
The more you bring light to your innovation process with a clear language and a simple method, the more your employees will produce innovation.
In my quest to find a solution to the theater and black box context, I took the time to explore the journey of people I consider "innovative": George Clooney (actor), Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon), Will Wright (creator of SIMS), Larry Page and Sergei Brin (founders of Goole), Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia), Puff Daddy (rapper), Peter Drucker (economist), and of course Roger Federer (Swiss professional tennis player).
All these people seem, at first glance, really different. And yet, if you take the time to thoroughly analyze their background, especially their childhood, you will realize one thing in common: the Montessori education. All these people have been at least once in their childhood through a Montessori school.
Is it a mere coincidence or is there really a cause-and-effect relationship? This is what we will discover together in the second part of this article ... :-D