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Crafting an Innovative Culture and


Name : Lim Foong Yee

Student ID : 08027005

r culture is an expression of a group of people that shows their current values and
behaviours. When someone is being described as outstanding, independent and
conservative, this means his or her personality characteristics are being described by other
people. Yet, organisation has its characteristics as well. Those characteristics are called as
organisational cultures . Organisational culture is a set of key values, beliefs, understandings
and norms shared by members of an organisation (Robbins. S. P. and Coulter, M., 2009).

The innovative culture is also an expression of a group of people that shows their
current values and behaviours. The only difference between culture and innovative culture is
the latter will result in innovation. Today, innovation is very important in the setting of
organisational cultures . This is because innovation helps organisations respond quickly to
unanticipated changes in the environment and achieve a sustainable level of competitive
advantages. Therefore, highly innovative companies are likely to a ttain higher profitability
and to grow faster as compared to less innovative companies. However, what does an
innovative culture look like?

Idea Time
Trust and Conflict
Openess Resolution

Freedom Debates

of an

Figure 1

Source: Robbins, S. P.and Coulter, M. 2009. ã   , 10th edition, United States of
rmerica: Pearson Prentice Hall , p. 54

Characteristics of an Innovative Culture

rccording to Swedish researcher Goran Ekvall, there are eight features of an

innovative culture as illustrated in F igure 1. First, challenge and involvement, simply, mean
employees are participating, motivating and dedicating to long-term goals and success of the
organisation. Second, freedom is about the capability of employees to identify their work
independently, to exercise discretion and to begin their daily operations and duties. Third,
employees must trust, support and respect to each others. Fo urth, idea time describes
whether or not employees have adequate time to develop new ideas in detail before any
actions are taken. Fifth, atmospheres in the workplace or the working environment should be
fun and spontaneous . Sixth, employees will either base on the benefit of the organisation or
their personal interest to decide and to resolve issues. Seventh, debates allow e mployees to
express opinions and ideas without fear and ridicule for reflection and review. Eighth, risk-
taking illustrates to what extend the m anagers are tolerating with insecurity and ambiguity
and the employees are reward ing for bearing the risks Ekvall (in Robbins. S. P. and Coulter,
M., 2009). Consequently, a good example of innovative cultures must possess those
features. However, there are poor innovative cultures as well. For instance, poor lateral
communications, ascendency of restrictive vertical relationships, ignored and unfocused
innovative activity and inadequate tools and resources will l ead to poor innovative cultures
(Tidd, J., Bessant, J. and Pavitt, K. , 2005).

Preview Cases

rs identified by A  A 

magazine, the ten most innovative
companies in the world in 2010 were shown in the table below (The 50 Most Innovative
Companies 2010, n.d.).

Rank Company
1 rpple
2 Google
3 Microsoft
5 Toyota Motor
7 LG Electronics
9 General Electric
10 Sony

Source: µThe 50 Most Innovative Companies 2010¶, A A 


Those companies believed that in novative culture is the most vital and influential factor in
promoting innovation. First, we talk about how rpple practices innovative cultures to
stimulate innovation. By establishing a foundation that expresse s innovation purposes, rpple
was able to develop a value for the company to follow and to inspire innovation . Reinvention
is the top priority of managers. The aims of rpple were not only to create good products but
also to reinvent the products so customers¶ personal preferences and needs were taking into
consideration. Therefore, rpple will continue to improve, to upgrade and to develop so there
is always an availability of new things that need to look forward by employees. Besides,
rpple encouraged involvement and participation from its employees too. Working
continuously to meet release deadlines and new product launches was made mandatory by
rpple to its employees . rpple also built a fun, thrive and spontaneous working environment
to encourage innovation. r variety of recreational facilities such as soccer fi elds, a swimming
pool, internet cafes and TV lounges was provided by rpple in the workplace. Lastly, a risk-
taking innovative culture was developed by rpple. This culture helped rpple to create new
devices such as iPad and improved its existing products such as iPods and iPhones.

The second most innovative company is Goggle. Google devoted to innovation that
relies on comfortable of people to share ideas and opinions. rt the same time, the cultures
of Google were open, transparent, rebellious, and free. Thus, employees had complete
freedom but meantime had to have standards of quality and innovation . This means
employees understood that they need to innovate all the times since innovation was their
compulsory duties. Moreover, Google maintained a fun and joyful working environment for
employees as well. Bicycles and scooters can be seen in the workplace of Google so

employees were able to travel quickly between meetings . Few more things that can be seen
in the workplace are break rooms with lots of snacks and drinks to energise employees,
laptops are everywhere to ease note-taking and emailing and few alone offices to allow brain

Challenges for 21st Century Managers

rre all organisations able to create innovative cultures and to innovate? The answer
will be uncertain. This is due to there are great numbers of challenges await managers.
Firstly, there is an uncertainty of whether or not managers can select the most talented and
potential innovators to in spire innovation. If managers choose the wrong person, resources
such as human, financial and supplies of goods and services will be wasted because those
resources are wrongly invested by organisations ( Schuler, r. J., 2002). Secondly, generally,
organisations fail to achieve innovation due to indifference. rlthough t hey are highly qualified,
smart and good managers or employees in meeting customers¶ demands, lowering
overhead costs and fulfilling sales objectives, innovation is just unfocused by them. Thirdly,
there are cases of some managers will go beyond indifference. rt first, they react to new
ideas negatively. Then, they will hostile those ideas . Fourthly, isolation is the biggest
obstacle for organisation to reach innovation. No ideas can be well -formed at the first stage.
Therefore, those ideas need to be commented, critiqued and remarked by others in order to
become qualified and practical ideas ( Wladawsky-Berger, I., 2008). Fifthly, seeking
immediate solutions and setting deadlines , sometimes, may become the challenges await
managers. On one hand, i f the habit of searching immediate results continues, it not only will
yield incremental improvement s in organisations but also discouragement of innovation. On
the other hand, setting deadlines will lead to discontinue of creative process before the
illumination stage. Then, the processes of crafting innovative cultures as well as
organisations are delaying. Sixthly, managers find it hard to im plement those new ideas.
Through implementation , ideas will be tested and the best ideas can be selected to be
adopted by organisations. rs a result, innovators not only can claim rewards for their ideas
are being practiced but also can be motivated to inn ovate for organisations in the future.
However, normally, managers fail to do so ( Schuler, r. J., 2002).

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The five steps, which managers use to craft an innovative culture, are also the
measures to tackle those challenges . First, managers need to create a story of challenges
and opportunities and to tell the following story to employees in order to bring the story to life.
Then, new ideas will be easier for employees to start. For example, employees of Nike are
told tales about the company was founded and committed to help athletes. Second, works
should be made as tangible as possible. This means employees should be surrounded by
their content of works that are post on the walls so there are chance discoveries by others,
formation of new ideas and more visible engagement of employees. Employees ought to try
their best to avoid powerpoints and emai ls. Third, a culture of critique , which is known as a
form of creativity, must be cultivated by managers. Employees are required to share their
unfinished or complete works with others and to prepare to receive feedbacks from them.
They may or may not agree to those feedbacks but just have some opportunities to take
advantage on that. Fourth, managers should form a talent-based structure. The duties of
creative direction and production management should be split by the best creative groups
rather than everyone is doing the same job. rs a result, there will be various groups where
each group will specialise in a particular job. rlso, it will make organisations easier to invest
on human capital development. Fifth, ideas must be developed continuously by managers
and employees so the organisation i s able to reach a better result (Five Steps to an
Innovative Culture, 2009). Last, organisations must employ people, who are different from
others, because they are able to think differently.

rfter that, organisations have to encounter three stages to accomplish innovative

organisations and to solve those challenges.


Figure 3

Source: Coffman, B. n.d. µ Building the Innovation Culture: Some Notes on rdaptation and
Change in Network -Centric Organizations ¶, [Electronic , pp. 10 -13, rvailable:

rs illustrated by figure 3, the first stage is exploring new ideas . In this stage, managers and
employees must acquire three requirements. First, explorers must have basic knowledge on
the subject matter. Second, explorers must have an inquiring and beginning mind. Thus,
explorers are able to think of the subject matter from a new pe rspective. Third, explorers
must make use of expeditions. Explorers must talk to people that are relate to the area,
which is being explored and studied by them. Secondly, trying and testing, merely, means
that managers must try and implement those new ideas. Innovators may test those ideas by
conducting local experiments primarily. Then, if those ideas are unable accommodated
through local experimentation, formal planning, application of resources and pilot program
will be required . Thirdly, if the new ideas will bring great success to the organisation,
managers and employees are likely to adopt it in the future. If the idea has been a comp lete
failure, they will stop it ( Coffman, B., n.d.)

In addition, knowing conditions that require for innovat ion to occur will help managers
to tackle those challenges too. The first condition is motivation to innovate. Humans as well
as organisations need to be motivated in orde r to be creative and innovative. So,
organisations need kind s of cultures that encourage inn ovation. The second condition is
resources to innovate. This means some basic resources such as human and financial
resources must be owned by organisations in order to stimulate innovation. The last
condition is skills to manage innovation. Skills at here are referring to those skills in
innovation management. When there is a balance between the three issues that are goals,
reward systems and time, innovation is being successfull y promoted by managers
(Greenberg, J. and Baron, R. r., 2009 ).

In conclusion, crafting an innovative culture and organisation is a cultural issue that

must be faced by managers. It is very important in 21 st century business world as well.
Therefore, managers must put as much efforts as they can to accomplish that issue.


Coffman, B. n.d. µ Building the Innovation Culture: Some Notes on rdaptation and Change in
Network-Centric Organizations ¶, [Online , pp. 10-13, rvailable:
[rccessed on 21 rpril 2010 .

i          , 2009, [Online , rvailable: -steps-to-an-innovative-culture.html more
[rccessed on 4 May 2010 .

Greenberg, J. and Baron, R. r. 2009. A    , 9th edition, New Delhi:
PHI Learning Private Limited, pp.572 -573.

Robbins, S. P.and Coulter, M. 2009. ã   , 10th edition, United States of rmerica:
Pearson Prentice Hall , pp. 46-54.
Schuler, r. J. 2002. A       A       ,
[Online , rvailable:
[rccessed on 12 May 2010 .

µThe 50 Most Innovative Companies 2010¶, A A 


Tidd, J., Bessant, J. and Pavitt, K. 2005. ã     , 3rd edition, United States:
John Wiley & Sons, pp. 499-500.

Wladawsky-Berger, I., µThe Challenges of Innovation¶, A A 

, 22
rugust 2008.