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Balance the business

The first part of full blown innovation involves balancing ten components some which are cool and others act to stabilise your innovation culture. Conventional wisdom suggests only disruptive, nimble start-ups can truly be innovative. The acceptance that once an entity gets bigger organisational arteriosclerosis sets in, is simply wrong. 

Our research reveals that large innovative organisations do things differently. They focus on balancing five “cool” components with five stabilising components. By doing this leaders in large organisations deliver remarkable levels of sustained innovation.

To deliver products, services and delight clients, your organisation must manage innovation components that are “cool.” These components are widely written about and observed (it’s what you see above the water). These five “cool” components include: 

  • Higher social purpose
  • Tolerance for failure

  • Willingness to experiment

  • Psychologically safety

  • Organisational flatness. 

But just like Royal Princess, innovation in business requires a set of sophisticated stabilisers. The five stabilising components include: 

  • Innovating for profit and growth

  • Rigorous discipline and an intolerance for incompetence

  • Culture of openness and candour

  • Individual accountability 

  • Strong leadership. 

By integrating and balancing 5 cool components with 5 stabilising components, innovation in businesses thrives. 

The importance of balancing your innovation culture

Balancing components

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When we think about innovative cultures at leading companies like Google, Apple and Uber we tend to imagine football tables, bowling alleys, free food, slides, and cosy meeting spaces with beanbags. In a copycat response, workplaces all over the world are creating similar breakout zones and gaming areas, where staff can chill out, chat, and stimulate their creative juices. 

Why? Because the conventional wisdom contends that these endeavours will foster a culture of creativity with relaxed, happy, motivated, and productive employees. In addition, a vast number of leadership books will instruct you to embrace failure, experimentation, psychological safety and non-hierarchical structures because these are all attractive ‘cool’ attributes that today’s talent wants to be part of. 

Yet, most companies are finding that the implementation of all these enjoyable ‘cool’ components of innovation do not result in an upswing in useful ideas. This is because what Google et al. are doing, is often misunderstood. Simply asking your organisation to be more like Google is no more realistic than ordering a French poodle to sing “La Marseillaise" whilst playing the glockenspiel. 

The reason innovative cultures in big businesses often fail to deliver the expected results, is that they focus too much on the cool components and overlook the ‘below-the-deck”’counter-balancing components.


Download the white paper to explore each of the ten components needed to balance innovation.

Seven essentials for building a culture of innovation

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