Characteristic # 1—The Innovation Mindset
Without creating a culture conducive for innovation, it’s unlikely that an enterprise will grow and develop. A culture of innovation is one that’s constantly evaluating everything: its systems, structures, procedures, teams, goals, capabilities, culture, and so on. Nothing is off limits for constructive criticism. The innovation mindset is more than an openness to change; it’s an attitude of striving for new and better ways of performing everything. There are several barriers—based on management myths—to creating this kind of culture; I cover these in Part II.
Characteristic # 2—Seeking Out Improvement Opportunities
Closely aligned with the innovation mindset, is being continually on the lookout for improvement opportunities. An innovation culture is characterized by being on the lookout for ways and means of improving the current policies, procedures, systems, and practices in the business. Continuous improvement is being both proactive and reactive. It’s not only about being alert to opportunities for improvement and responding to these situations. Continuous improvement is also actively seeking out enhancement opportunities, even when they’re not so obvious. And once recognized, it’s also concerned with doing something to change and improve the system, situation, or circumstance. This characteristic entails an attitude of relentlessly looking for new opportunities for development, being open and constructively critical of the way things are done, and being creative and willing to consider out-of-the-box solutions. Again, some well-known people management practices—such as specialization—interfere with this type of thinking.