It’s difficult to change a culture that is not innovative into one that is. It takes years. Sometimes it begins by CEO decree, but most of the time it starts with you. The good news is, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you sit in the org chart or what your title is (isn’t). Here’s how to start…
It begins by creating conversations among a few like-minded people and identifying problems to be solved and/or opportunities to be seized (supported by data and insights) that senior leaders are not noticing. Then, this group must carve out carefully crafted time to invite other collaborators from across the organization to create solutions for these problems/opportunities.
We called them Spark* events. These events gave life to our cause and gave those everyday employees who had a knack for innovative problem solving a productive outlet. It’s difficult not to get excited about innovation and that excitement was contagious.
Sealed Air Corporation called them Improvement Days. These IDs grew from just one Friday a quarter to sometimes 4 ID Fridays in a row.
When that much momentum creates viable solutions, it becomes something seriously considered by senior leaders. (Depending on the organization, it could take 24-36 months for this to really grab hold, so give yourself plenty of realistic runway.) When senior leaders begin asking “What’s Spark* about?” or “What’s this ID thing?”, that’s when the current is ready to shift toward a culture that is more innovative.
What starts as a lightly attended get-together taking place every now and again, can grow into a regularly scheduled event in which many across the organization look forward to participating. With consistency, great storytelling, and results, these events quietly become a corporate capability – a normal way of approaching work. It is no longer about the events themselves because everyone thinks like innovators on a daily basis. It becomes something that everyone just does and that’s when you know the current of culture has shifted.
IN THE END, it all starts with some “one”… someone like you, who takes the initiative to make Spark* and ID events happen right where you are. Do you see an opportunity for you to take the step and create something like Spark* or Improvement Days at your organization?