Culture of Innovation

Culture like a lever is a tool, and as a lever enables an individual to physically lift otherwise impossible loads, so too culture enables the organization to collectively acquire and apply knowledge and skills to achieve otherwise unobtainable objectives.

“A culture of innovation is the means by which great leaders create a collective intelligence capable of attaining an organization’s higher purpose.”

Our model acknowledges that a culture of innovation is a means to an end, and not the end in itself. Cultures are created to achieve a higher purpose, to achieve the organization’s reason to exist.

Peter Drucker famously said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” We interpret Drucker’s aphorism in two ways. First, culture is at the top of the organization’s food chain consuming mission, vision and strategy. Conversely, mission, vision and strategy provide the sustenance for a culture to achieve the organization’s higher purpose. Without a well-defined mission, vision and strategy the culture has no compass.

Cultures once created are long-lived. They are rooted in the organization’s shared tacit knowledge and collective explicit knowledge which, in turn, determines the organizations acceptable behavior patterns. The behavior patterns in turn determine the underlying social network that creates and bounds the organization’s social capital.

The Culture of Innovation model most importantly provides a rubric for Leadership to analyze its current culture and define the desired future culture of innovation.

The Culture as Collective Intelligence (CCI) model is shown graphically below:

Model of Culture as Collective Intelligence

The model has the following important characteristics:

Cultures of innovation are linked to Leadership: Leadership defines an organization’s mission, its reason to exist. Cultures exist to realize that mission.

Highly actionable: Cultures can be characterized by the acceptable behavior patterns of their members. Behavior patterns in turn are driven by policies and practices. The model shows how policies and practices can be designed to realize the organization’s mission, vision and strategy and grow the underlying innovation network.
Systems approach: Doing so methodically works towards growing an organization’s collective intelligence – its collective ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills leading to a competitive advantage.

Measurable: The model accommodates all four generations of innovation metrics identified by the President’s Council on Competitiveness.

Differentiates between Innovative Cultures and Cultures of Innovation: The latter constantly challenging their existing paradigm and thus continually expanding their ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. This distinction also explains disruptive innovation and why incumbents never see it coming.