Corporate Culture and Innovation: 10 Reasons Why Yours Can’t Drive Innovation

Corporate Culture Innovation and 10 Deadly Sins Blocking Yours

Innovation is not an accident. Corporate cultures with high innovation incidence happen because innovation is a desired outcome and all supportive processes are aligned to promote it.

Corporate culture innovation can be cultivated

#10 – You (the leader) expect everyone else to handle innovation. (Remember the saying a dog is like it’s owner? Your people model what you do).

#9 – Politics are more important than people. If you play the blame-game regularly (defending, excuses, witch-hunts) forget about creativity. These are mutually exclusive activities).

#8 – No process for creativity. A business that doesn’t allow experimentation and failure has no creativity and innovation output. If everything is geared toward selling and marketing, you need to design a process for innovating your processes. The management gurus all talk about “culture” as the next most important innovation.

#7 – Bad hiring, leading to over-managing. If you hire people who are passionate about their ideas and skilled in their craft, you don’t have to over-manage them. Over-managing kills innovation. If you feel you must over-manage then you have the wrong people.

#6 –Decision paralysis. Too many cooks in the kitchen? How many meetings do you leave at say “What happened there?” If a meeting doesn’t end with a clear decision, it was probably a waste of time – even if the decision is as simple as “Who’s making this decision?” or “What will we do moving forward?” or “Kill this idea – it’s not going anywhere.”

#5 – No fun. Do you make time for employees to have fun? When the average worker spends 40-50 hours a week dedicated to your company, give back.  Make it a fun place to be.  Take a page from the Zappos story.

#4 – Hero focus. If your culture rewards individual heroics, expect individual heroics. Innovation is a team sport. Make sure your reward and recognition gears toward team wins.

#3 – Too much talk. No walk.  Leaders say they want innovation but they don’t invest in it. Does your R&D budget support true innovation, like Apple and Intel?

#2 – Failure not tolerated. If you don’t actively tell people to “try often, fail sooner” you won’t have innovation. Learning to fail is humankind’s most precious asset, but in the corporate world it’s all about “get it right or go home.”

#1 – People don’t tell the truth. Conflict-averse cultures don’t innovate. This is the #1 innovation-killer is the lack of straight talk. Unless you are Apple (where everything is decided by a few people) you  need discord. That requires people who are skilled at telling the truth in constructive ways. Conflict can be done well. Learn about it.

Lisa Jackson is a corporate culture expert, helping companies improve performance through sensible methods of changing company culture, and aligning their culture with unprecedented change and transformation…. AND a bit of humor and fun in the process never hurts.

Visit them on the web at or follow them on Twitter at


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