Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Many organizations are starting to see the need to innovate. However still many of them still have the (strong) opinion that they can only innovate themselves, so innovate from within. Open innovation, crowdsourcing and the use of any other outside expertise is a bridge too far. The reason for this attitude is really a cultural heritage.

The management of an organization often shares the same attitudes on how the business should be conducted. In sharing these management attitudes, you can see them as collective attitudes, collective beliefs. Together they form the culture in your organization. This culture heavily influences the thinking and thus the actions, both internally and externally.
Recent research on companies that are among the most successful innovators points to one common denominator – the right culture.

“Innovation is no longer about money, it’s about the climate:
 are individuals allowed to flourish and take risks?”
William Weldon, chairman Johnson & Johnson

Below you will find examples of limiting business attitudes and energizing business attitudes.

Limiting attitudes about business
Most attitudes are based upon experiences, habits from the past. “That is the way things get done over here’. They were suitable for the 20th century, but with the huge speed of change and challenge, these attitudes are ‘out of date’ now.
Below you will find an example of how your current attitudes might look like. Of course you will have been using different wordings and context, but in essence there might be a lot of similarity. I have used different categories (underlined) to cover some main business subjects.

  1. Purpose: To make as much profit as possible.
  2. Management Style: Managers  give commands to employees on what, when and how to accomplish goals.Managers control employees
  3. Customers: Product-out push. Transaction focussed
  4. Rewards: People are only interested in their salary
  5. Metrics: Mainly financial; profit and shareholder value
  6. Workplace: The standard workplace is defined by managers
  7. Working hours: 9-5, 40 hours per week, on-site
  8. Training: There is limited room for professional development
  9. Information: Info is distributed according to your position
  10. Innovation: We have all the know-how inside

Changing your attitudes
These attitudes have served you well in the past. However, in order to cope with all the new challenges and to claim your leading position, it is clear that new attitudes need to be developed. Below you will find an example of the proposed new attitudes, which will serve you perfectly. Of course you need to develop your own wording, subjects etc.

“Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game.”
Lou Gerstner, U.S., former IBM CEO

Energizing attitudes about business
The 21st century with all its changes requires a radical overhaul of the old habits, the old attitudes. To cope with all the challenges a different mindset is absolutely necessary. For ease of reference, the same numbers of the attitudes are used. So, the new attitude number 1 is the more effective alternative to the old number 1.

  1. Purpose: There is  meaning, a purpose in the organization and in the work itself
  2. Management Style: Managers coach their employees  as and when asked for. Employees determine how they will reach their goals. Employees are given responsibility and trust.
  3. Customers: Needs driven. Lifetime value
  4. Rewards: Employees want more than a great salary.  They are interested in having a more fulfilled life, less stress, and more decision-making authority within their job
  5. Metrics: People, planet, profit and stakeholder value
  6. Workplace: Employees define/design their own workplace
  7. Working hours: Defined by employees, based upon goals achievement, on-site or remote/mobile
  8. Training: If people grow (professionally and personally), the business grows
  9. Information: Info is distributed according to your needs
  10. Innovation: We use the available know-how of the marketplace

“Corporate culture is the strongest driver of radical innovation across nations.”
Journal of Marketing, Tellis/Prabhu/Chandy, 2009

So, isn’t it time to bury the ‘not-invented-here syndrome’?


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