The Power of Culture to Drive Innovation

Recognize This! – Innovation and innovative ideas can come from anywhere, if encouraged, recognized and rewarded.

This week I’m wrapping up the last in our 2012 series of “Build Your Winning Culture of Recognition” workshops in with participants build their own one-page strategies to create a true culture of appreciation and recognition in their organizations. (A few seats are still available in Tyson’s Corner, VA, for tomorrow’s workshop. Register here.) Usually, workshop attendees already understand the value of a culture of recognition, which is why they choose to attend.

Yet, occasionally I’m asked some version of: “Can a culture of recognition really make that much of a difference?”

Yes, indeed it does. Case in point – encouraging innovation at all levels.

Most organizations are seeking to be innovative, to lead their markets, to provide their customers with what they want before they realize they want it. Achieving that goal, however, requires seeking innovative ideas from everywhere. And if you expect all employees to contribute in this way, you must create a culture that recognizes and rewards innovation.

For example, Nike CEO Mark Parker has this to say (from Fast Company):

“You don’t need to be here four or five years to have great ideas heard. I go out and seek ideas from lower parts of company, maybe a new designer fresh out of school. Sometimes it’s good to see raw ideas at a basic level. I like to pull that out, put it in the spotlight, celebrate that ideas come from everywhere. There’s real value to show everyone in the company that you can make a difference. In many cases, things that happened off the grid have become a massive success.”

Or this example from the world of media (related by Ron Thomas in TLNT):

“‘Don’t credit me with that success. That idea came from a janitor at the NFL Films production facility. He suggested that we take all the fumbles and mishaps and put them to music.’

“That statement was from Steve Sabol, the late co-founder (with his father, Ed) of NFL Films… Have you ever seen the segment where all the fumbles and hits are compiled into a popular show of its own? As a matter of fact, it has become a brand itself within the company franchise. And, that idea came from possibly the lowest person on the org chart.”

That’s the real power of a culture of appreciation – how it can change the discussion around what matters most to the organization. If you value innovation and want innovative ideas to fuel your organization, don’t just seek innovation at all levels. You need to recognize and reward innovation at all levels as well.

What behaviors or results are you trying to achieve in your organization? Are you recognizing and rewarding appropriately to see those results?

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