Building an innovation culture

9 September 2016  |  Admin


EVERYDAY INNOVATION / Hugh HenryPeople often ask me how they can develop an innovation culture in their business. My answer is simple: “Rome was not built in a day”. To instil a culture of innovation, you first must introduce innovation behaviour – and for that, you need the correct processes in place.

Therefore, in summary: adherence to a process for innovation in a business leads to innovation-centric behaviour in staff and, eventually, when it becomes embedded in a business, to an innovation culture.

To succeed in any innovation activity, an understanding of both the market and the technical problems facing the business are needed. Innovation is not the domain of any one section or group in the business. It is truly a multidisciplinary task and must be resourced accordingly. I like the simplified team-building process produced by tools such as Belbin’s team-building model (see Meredith Belbin’s 1981 book, Management Teams). The types of individuals on the team are arguably more important than numbers but, in an SME, at least three should be on the team – in larger companies, this number can be six or more.

It is vital that you select a team based on their willingness to be involved. To this end, it is worth remembering that people engage in innovation activities because of a wide range of reasons, including inter alia:


  • They do it to get noticed in a business (from management and staff) in order to advance their career
  • They have a clear vision of where they see the company and themselves going and these are fully aligned with the overall business strategy and they want to get there as fast as possible


  • They have a passion about the activity and are driven to ‘get on with it’, regardless of obstacles encountered
  • They have great self-belief and a willingness to succeed


  • They want to share in the financial returns of their endeavours


  • They believe they are, and want to be seen by others as, team players and as good communicators
  • They want to be recognised in the filing of intellectual property (patents, trademarks, etc).

Extracted from EVERYDAY INNOVATION: A Practical Guide to Establishing and Operating an Innovation Management System in Your Business by Hugh Henry.