How To Determine If You Have A Culture Of Innovation

You can spend months on analysis.

You can create as many scenarios as you can imagine.

You can employ all the tools available to mitigate risk.

But you will never be able to predict the outcome of trying something new. There are simply too many variables in the equation: competitor moves, economic shifts, regulatory changes and technology disruptions are always in play to confound the outcome of any action you take.

You may get close. But you will never get it exactly as you intended.

There is a gigantic chasm between any plan and the results of the plan.

And the only way to bridge the chasm is to act quickly and see the results of your action; execute, learn from the execution, and modify or “deep six” the plan and move in a different direction.

This requires a planning process that enables a stream of experimentation; that has the “Why don’t we… and see what happens?” question at its core.

Answer these questions to determine if experimentation is taken seriously in your organization.

1. What is the conversation generated by leadership. Do they encourage testing new ideas by asking “Why don’t we…”? or do they ask for a detailed business case with volumes of analysis requiring months to complete?

2. How much analysis is performed when considering a new course of action? Is it increasing or decreasing in favour of taking action? Is the bias to analyze or act?

3. Are annual objectives set for the number of experiments you want to conduct? Is the objective included in the organization’s performance balanced scorecard?

4. Do experimentation champions get continuous recognition? Does leadership play an active role in the proceedings?

5. Do your organizational values include a strong experimentation focus? If value statements don’t expect a “let’s try it” attitude it won’t happen. And an innovative culture will never flourish.

6. Are experimentation results compared to targets prominently displayed in the workplace for all to see? Priorities must be “in the face” of all employees to reinforce their importance.

You can’t plan your way to progress.

The yard sticks move forward only by people doing stuff; by turning brave ideas into crude deeds constantly.

Stand-out leaders encourage this activity by asking “Why don’t we…” often and passionately.

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