The intent may be to create a highly innovative culture; employing new technologies to deliver unmatched capabilities and leading the market with cutting edge solutions.
At the end of the day, however, it’s ACTION not INTENT that defines culture of any organization.
Observe what individuals are DOING and listen to their CONVERSATION and THE culture of the organization is defined.
Regardless of the declared cultural intent promulgated by the “culture cops”, one conversation that always circulates throughout any organization involves benchmarking and the pursuit of best practices to both set strategy and improve performance.
Identifying the organization that is perceived (by the “best practice experts”) to perform some function remarkably well and copying them is commonplace regardless of the altruistic cultural vision espoused by leadership.
The copycat culture runs rampant in organizations under the guise of innovation and creativity; the world is fast becoming a home for best practice addicts.
The words and music don’t match.
You can’t SAY you have a culture of innovation and yet COPY another.
When an organization copies, it is relegated to a follower position not a leadership one. The only creative aspect of following might be speed – the fast follower – but this is only material if it is following quicker than their competition.
Copying is “sucking up” to the best in class organization which is looked up to as being the example of the “right” strategic direction and how to lift operating performance to a higher level.
A culture of innovation is created by a drive to be different than the competitive herd. To step out and assume the risks involved in being the ONLY ones who do what you do.
Success is measured not by effective implementation of another organization’s core competency, but by the rate of introducing revolutionary “game changers” that disrupt the market and force everyone else to follow.
And the conversation among employees is all about “What do we have to do to be DIFFERENT than other market players?” to standout, NOT “How can we emulate best in class?” and fit in.
A culture of innovation and first movers is raw; a journey never before travelled.
A culture where “the number of tries” is a key success factor and failure is accepted as the cost of progress.
And degrees of separation from everyone else is THE driver of strategy.
Organizations that are true to their innovation cultural values OBSERVE what others are doing but are DRIVEN to morph a best practice into THEIR own unique practice that satisfies a compelling market need in a way that others can only dream of.
Leaders must own this.
THEY must ask the questions and observe the behaviour that either confirms their organization is on the path of true innovation or is merely a copycat pretending to be.
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