Creating a Culture of Innovation: From Ideas to Impact

Mila Chervenkova

Mila Chervenkova

Marketing Expert | Agile, Kanban & OKR Practitioner

Table of Contents:

In today's fast-paced and competitive business world, companies realize that innovation and creativity are essential for long-term success. A culture of innovation and creativity cannot be achieved overnight but instead requires a deliberate and ongoing effort to foster an environment that encourages and rewards new ideas and approaches. 

Even at Businessmap, our vision states that we are on this planet to help people do meaningful work and, by that, accelerate innovation.

The idea of continuous improvement drives our culture. It all starts with building a culture that emphasizes balance on the individual level. And to foster innovation and creativity within that culture, we need to start by removing waste and inefficiencies.

Easier said than done, right? Indeed, creating an environment that fosters innovation takes a lot of work. At our company, we’ve been doing it for the past 12 years. And let me tell you that this goal has no ending - it's a marathon, not a sprint. And this marathon is ingrained into the DNA of our culture.

The good part is that all these years of experience building a culture of innovation leave us nothing but to share our learnings from this change process.

Our Process of Change and Innovation Consists of Kaizen, Kaikaku, Kakushin

Kaizen, Kaikaku, and Kakushin are approaches used in Lean. Each of the three terms refers to a change, but in a significantly different order of change and usually carried out by different employees.

What Is Kaizen?

Kaizen is the Japanese word for “change for the better.” It refers to incremental improvements in the workplace. A popular methodology for Kaizen is quality circles (QC).

Image credit: Jun Nakamuro

What Is Kaikaku?

Kaikaku is the Japanese word for “radical change.” It refers to a more significant revolutionary change. For example, a new enterprise project that will massively improve work processes or production.

What Is Kakushin?

Kakushin is the Japanese word for “innovation.” This term refers to the “innovative/transformative”' change that will result in a complete change for the business. It could be a market-disrupting service or a newly conceptualized product.

Here is how these three approaches drive Lean thinking and fit into the culture of change and innovation.

  • Kaizen is the phase where incremental improvements happen.
  • Kaikaku is the phase where breakthrough improvements happen.
  • Kakushin is the phase where a new disruptive business model appears to serve new customers.

Businessmap’s acquisition of Berriprocess Agility and the decision to rebrand to Businessmap is an example of Kaikushin.

To end up with such a significant decision is a challenging job. We have been building our culture of innovation and creativity since year 1 to end up with this company-wide changing decision in year 12.

And we are sharing our learnings as we grow.

Take Our 8 Bits of Advice to Create a Culture of Innovation and Creativity

How can one eat a loaf of bread? By eating one bite at a time. The same applies to creating a culture of innovation - you do it one step at a time.

And here are our 8 bits of advice to chew on, bite by bite.

1. Encourage open communication and collaboration

Leaders should foster a culture of open-mindedness and actively seek out diverse viewpoints and opinions, recognizing that different perspectives can lead to unique and creative solutions. 

Collaboration should also be encouraged, with team members working together to build on each other's strengths and ideas. This way,  individuals are more likely to feel valued, and a sense of community and shared vision can be established, leading to a more innovative and creative workplace.

2. Foster a growth mindset mentality

This mindset centers on the belief that individuals can improve their skills and abilities through dedication and hard work. It encourages employees to embrace challenges and see them as opportunities for growth rather than obstacles. 

Creating a culture that values a growth mindset requires leaders to provide opportunities for ongoing learning and development and promote a supportive and collaborative work environment where employees feel comfortable taking risks and sharing their ideas.

3. Encourage diverse perspectives and ideas

Encouraging individuals from different backgrounds and experiences to share their thoughts can lead to a broader range of innovative solutions and unique approaches to problems. 

By valuing and respecting diverse opinions, individuals feel more comfortable sharing their ideas and are more likely to engage in productive discussions and collaborations. Doing so benefits the organization by promoting innovation and a sense of inclusivity and equality within the workplace.

4. Encourage experimentation and risk-taking

To encourage experimentation and risk-taking, it's important to provide a safe and supportive environment where failure is viewed as a learning opportunity rather than a negative outcome. Leaders should provide resources and support for employees to experiment, try new things, and take calculated risks. 

Organizations should also recognize and reward employees who take risks and develop innovative ideas, even if those ideas don't always work out. By creating a culture that values experimentation and risk-taking, organizations can unlock the full potential of their employees and drive innovation and creativity in their products, services, and processes.

5. Foster a culture of learning

Organizations that prioritize and encourage learning can adapt to changing markets and stay ahead of the competition. Leaders should provide opportunities for employees to learn new skills, attend relevant conferences or workshops, and participate in mentorship programs. 

Additionally, leaders can create a culture where employees feel comfortable asking questions, sharing ideas, and experimenting with new approaches. This encourages a growth mindset and promotes a culture of continuous improvement.

6. Create a safe space for creativity

To create a safe space for creativity, leaders must prioritize open communication and actively encourage collaboration and brainstorming sessions. Team members should be given the freedom to take risks and experiment with different approaches without fear of negative consequences. 

It's also important to establish clear guidelines for respectful and constructive feedback, ensuring that all ideas are evaluated fairly and unbiased.

7. Prioritize employee engagement and feedback

Engaged employees are likelier to stay with the company, perform better, and contribute more to the organization's overall success. 

One way to achieve this is by allowing employees to speak up and share their ideas, opinions, and feedback regularly. It is also important to actively listen to their feedback and act on their suggestions to show their input is valued.

8. Recognize and reward innovation

When employees feel their innovative ideas are valued and appreciated, they are more likely to continue generating new ideas and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. This can lead to breakthroughs and innovations that can give the organization a competitive advantage and improve the bottom line. 

Rewards can come in many forms, from financial incentives to public recognition to opportunities for professional development. It is important to ensure that the reward system is transparent, fair, and based on measurable outcomes. 

And Bit by Bit You Ate the Loaf of Bread

As you eat your last bite, here are our closing thoughts.

Fostering a workplace culture of innovation and creativity is crucial for any organization that wants to stay ahead of the game. 

By implementing continuous improvement strategies such as encouraging collaboration, embracing failure, and fostering a sense of purpose, companies can create an environment that allows employees to be more creative and innovative and boosts morale and productivity. 

Organizations can better adapt to changing market conditions by prioritizing innovation and creativity and remaining competitive in today's fast-paced business landscape.



Project Management

Mila Chervenkova

Mila Chervenkova

Marketing Expert | Agile, Kanban & OKR Practitioner

Mila is a seasoned marketing professional with a rich background in product marketing, content creation, and website optimization. Years of Practicing Kanban, Agile, and OKR practices have made her an expert in creating powerful productivity habits.