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Architecting a Culture of Innovation



Architecting a Culture of Innovation

If we want employees to think outside of the box than we have to remove the boxes.

Architecting a culture of innovation requires business leaders to rear their organizations. Doing one innovation initiative, hackathon or happy hour where you urge your employees to talk about innovative concepts won’t cut it. It’s kind of like reading your child a bedtime story when they’re 5 and then telling them “Alright, I’ve nurtured you so now go ahead and get your own place because I’ve done enough to raise you.” It doesn’t work that way. Rearing an organization, in an effort to birth a thriving culture of innovation, requires standing by your employees as they grow through the good times and the bad. This involves picking them up and putting band-aids on the scraped knees, nurturing, disciplining, giving them the freedom to play, encouraging exploration, creating boundaries, coaching, educating, listening, teaching kindness, supporting them, empowering them and much more. Then as your future innovators feel safe and supported, they will begin to reach for new heights if they know that they have a safe place to fall.

Starting the Conversation

The one really great thing about humans is that we have the ability to communicate. In fact, when we commonly ask another human a question they often will tell you what they think (especially humans in the workplace). If you want to know what your employees need in order to be successful innovators ASK THEM.

  • Find out what they consider to be motivators and obstacles in their creative process.
  • Ask them how they themselves define innovation in order to ensure that there is alignment between the organizations’ definition and your employees.
  • Use tools such as surveys to find out what it is that people want and make sure to leave room for additional comments.

Have you ever thought about what it means to cultivate curiosity?

Organizational cultivation is the act of creating a business ecosystem in which life grows and is sustained organically. Choosing to cultivate behavior in an organization is the conscious decision that business leaders can make to stop dictating employee behaviors via command and control, and start to grow organically incepted behavior that is far more sustainable. When people draw their own conclusions based on the knowledge that they have integrated into their own value systems, true change occurs in any business and even the world. Many times business leaders attempt to handle issues with disciplinary actions only when they really need to stop and consider what they can do as true leaders to influence and empower their workforce to change.

True change is revealed on the behavior level and to make it there people have to psychologically identify and personalize the concept.

Architecting a culture of innovation requires organizations to:

Create Safe Spaces to Fail

Innovation requires failure. If you never take the leap you’ll never get to the other side. Organizations can provide a sort of safety net that catches those who fall so that they can learn the skills and techniques to finally make it to the other side.

Create Safe Spaces to Play

Innovation is fun and is cultivated through curiosity. Provide an environment that stimulates playful imagination. Play frees us to think clearly and releases creative thought.

Create Both Digital and Physical Forums of Collaboration

Innovation requires agility. Creating both digital and physical forums for people to communicate and share ideas, thoughts, and opinions freely is a vital part of the process.

Survey Potential Innovators

Ask people what they want and need in order to be at their best. It’s just that simple.

Encourage Peer-to-Peer Leadership

The old ways of command and control management styles are falling apart at the seams. Leaders must now learn to empower and support their teams and cultivate peer-to-peer leadership principles. In the peer-to-peer leadership mechanism, peers have the permission to lead, follow, collaborate and hold each other accountable to standards of excellence.

Innovation is a necessary part of pushing your organization forward in a world that is rapidly changing. Now is the time to work and live in a new way.

Tephra Miriam is an avid thought leader, author of middle-grade novel 'Escape to Clown Town', graphic artist, photographer, musician, activist and entrepreneur with a passion for change. Tephra grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and moved to Chicago, Illinois when she was 18 years old, where she currently resides. Her search for adventure took her far and wide at a young age and she continues to mentor, learn, work and speak all over the US. Tephra is a firm believer of redefining the way we think and live. She is a wellness advocate and often blogs on organizational development, challenging the status quo and creating a holistic work environment. Tephra believes that creating space in your life to play, imagine and dream is vital in problem solving, stress management and innovation. As a product of 12 years of homeschooling, Tephra started out at Harold Washington College in Chicago, Illinois before transferring to DePaul University and receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Communications and a Master of Arts degree in Applied Professional Studies with a concentration in Authorship and Entrepreneurialism.