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How Culture Drives Innovation

The harsh truth about innovation and culture is that if you want to innovate, you have to look at who your company is at its core.

March 01, 2023

Every business wants to innovate. Take a look at all the greatest companies from the past decade—Apple, Tesla, Google. What do they all have in common? They all set the bar for world-changing innovation.

The problem executives have with innovation is that it can’t be created like a product or a service. It can't come from a top-bottom decision or a boardroom meeting. It can’t be forced.

You see, innovation comes from inside you; it comes from the depths of you and your company. I’m not getting heartfelt here, but look at some of the biggest innovations in the last century: the electric car, the smart phone, and even social media. They all came about because of what their founders believed.

For innovation to occur, your organization must align your beliefs, values, and purpose. In other words, you must have the right culture.

The Truth About Culture

Let's start with an important fact: every organization has a culture.

Contrary to what you have been taught in school, culture isn't an institution that works only on a macro-social level. Your family has a culture, just like your company, church, or sports team.

Culture is unspoken and invisible, but it exists within every set group. The question is, whether you’re creating an intentional or accidental culture.

Culture is the single most important factor in determining whether or not your organization will achieve your goals.

Its impact is undeniable; the famous management guru Peter Drucker famously said once,

“ Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Culture will outwork, outhustle, and outthink the most talented well resourced companies.

It sets the tone for how your company operates and how your organization leads its people.

According to a study done by Thomas Kell and Gregory T. Carrott, corporate cultures affect employees’ leadership styles more than any other aspect of their jobs. They discovered that employees who work for the same corporation—regardless of their jobs—are 30% more likely to exhibit similar leadership competencies (which they defined as the way a person learns, deduces, envisions, engages, and executes) than people who do the same job but who work in different companies.

Let's say you decide you want to improve customer satisfaction. You can plan, strategize, and set ambitious goals, but if your organization tolerates rudeness and apathy towards each other than the true culture of your organization is going to trickle down and affect how you treat your customers.

Look at the way your employees and fellow executives behave with one another. See what hidden but implicitly understood rules of behavior they have. How do they treat each other? Is there mutual trust or is there selfish ambition?

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