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Want a Culture That Embraces Innovation? Encourage These 5 Behaviors.

June 3, 2022

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Many people associate innovation with implementing new technology or finding some major breakthrough. But one innovation expert says it doesn’t have to be so impressive. And in most cases, innovation is simply trying something different to create value or solve a problem. 

Meet Natalie Painchaud, the director of learning at Innosight and co-author of “Eat, Sleep, Innovate: How to Make Creativity an Everyday Habit Inside Your Organization.” Over the last 18 years, Natalie has consulted countless companies on embracing innovation. 

So, we recently invited Natalie on the “Organize Chaos” podcast to talk about what she’s learned over her career. And in this episode, she shares five everyday behaviors for making innovation happen at your company.

1. Prefer curiosity over the status quo.

When organizations dampen curiosity and demand the status quo, they discourage employees from trying something new.  But when curiosity is encouraged — and perhaps even rewarded — innovation flourishes in business. 

“We're all born with an innate curiosity to ask questions,” Natalie explained. But the problem is unintentional barriers within a company often block employees from being inquisitive, whether it’s hard-held beliefs or faulty policy.

“[Curious organizations] ask ‘What if we try things differently?’ versus ‘That's how things have always been done,’” Natalie told us. And all it takes is shifting your perspective from rigid thinking to more curious exploration. 

For example, instead of onboarding new hires “on the way things are done here,” encourage all employees to question processes and share better systems. This way, your team members know it’s not only safe to seek improvement, but it’s also embraced. 

2. Customer obsession across the entire organization 

The second behavior is customer obsession or customer-centricity. And according to Natalie, this takes deep understanding across your entire organization — where everyone knows your customer, the emotions behind their decisions, and how your offering supports their needs.

“[Customer centricity] is more than only marketing people understanding the customer,” Natalie explained. “[It’s] customer obsession throughout the organization.” This way, every employee knows the psyche behind who they serve, and they use that knowledge to find better solutions. 

For example, you should ensure that all employees can answer the following questions:

  • Who are your customers?
  • What are their functional tasks?
  • What emotions drive their decisions?
  • How do they want to feel? 
  • What are the jobs to be done? 
  • How do they want to be perceived by others?

When your team can put themselves in your customers’ shoes, they’re better equipped to think like them and imagine better ways to serve them. 

3. Collaboration isn’t just a buzzword. 

The next behavior is collaboration. And to create a truly innovative culture, collaboration has to be more than just a buzzword. “Innovation happens at intersections where collisions [happen at work],” Natalie shared. But you have to ensure those meetups are actually happening. 

For instance, you may schedule regular one-on-ones between two departments that don’t cross paths regularly. Or you could set up ongoing presentations where employees share their unique insights. Either way, you’re creating a container where collaboration can happen. 

“There's a humility to understand that the smartest person in the room is the room itself.”
–  Natalie Painchaud, Director of Learning at Innosight 

4. Ambiguity is embraced and managed.

The fourth behavior is being adept in ambiguity. Or, in simpler terms, making the unknown less scary. In fact, it can be addressed, managed, and maybe even lead to a more significant win. “[The idea is that] risk isn't a bad word,” Natalie explained.

Because when organizations embrace risk, they consequently welcome new ideas that can be tried and tested. And that’s how innovation begins and eventually impacts the entire business. 

To embrace ambiguity in your business, teach employees how to ask the following questions: 

  • What is the underlying assumption here? 
  • What needs to be true to make the new solution work? 
  • How do we run an experiment and learn about the risk?

5. Employees are empowered to do something different.

The last behavior — and Natalie’s personal favorite — is empowerment. Because to get employees to think outside the box, they first have to feel authorized to do so. And that means it’s up to the leadership team and managers to make employees feel empowered to take action. 

“To do something different, you actually have to do something.”

To see if your employees feel empowered, look around your organization. Then, ask yourself: Are my people taking initiative? If so, keep rewarding that behavior. But if not, consider ways to open the playing field and encourage all employees to try something new. 

Creating an innovative culture isn’t an overnight task. It starts with encouraging everyday actions that add up to something meaningful in the long run. And while it might look slightly different for each business, it ultimately comes down to these five behaviors.

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Article

Want a Culture That Embraces Innovation? Encourage These 5 Behaviors.

June 3, 2022

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Share it!
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You're all signed up! Look out for the next edition of The Manual Weekly coming Wednesday am!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Many people associate innovation with implementing new technology or finding some major breakthrough. But one innovation expert says it doesn’t have to be so impressive. And in most cases, innovation is simply trying something different to create value or solve a problem. 

Meet Natalie Painchaud, the director of learning at Innosight and co-author of “Eat, Sleep, Innovate: How to Make Creativity an Everyday Habit Inside Your Organization.” Over the last 18 years, Natalie has consulted countless companies on embracing innovation. 

So, we recently invited Natalie on the “Organize Chaos” podcast to talk about what she’s learned over her career. And in this episode, she shares five everyday behaviors for making innovation happen at your company.

1. Prefer curiosity over the status quo.

When organizations dampen curiosity and demand the status quo, they discourage employees from trying something new.  But when curiosity is encouraged — and perhaps even rewarded — innovation flourishes in business. 

“We're all born with an innate curiosity to ask questions,” Natalie explained. But the problem is unintentional barriers within a company often block employees from being inquisitive, whether it’s hard-held beliefs or faulty policy.

“[Curious organizations] ask ‘What if we try things differently?’ versus ‘That's how things have always been done,’” Natalie told us. And all it takes is shifting your perspective from rigid thinking to more curious exploration. 

For example, instead of onboarding new hires “on the way things are done here,” encourage all employees to question processes and share better systems. This way, your team members know it’s not only safe to seek improvement, but it’s also embraced. 

2. Customer obsession across the entire organization 

The second behavior is customer obsession or customer-centricity. And according to Natalie, this takes deep understanding across your entire organization — where everyone knows your customer, the emotions behind their decisions, and how your offering supports their needs.

“[Customer centricity] is more than only marketing people understanding the customer,” Natalie explained. “[It’s] customer obsession throughout the organization.” This way, every employee knows the psyche behind who they serve, and they use that knowledge to find better solutions. 

For example, you should ensure that all employees can answer the following questions:

  • Who are your customers?
  • What are their functional tasks?
  • What emotions drive their decisions?
  • How do they want to feel? 
  • What are the jobs to be done? 
  • How do they want to be perceived by others?

When your team can put themselves in your customers’ shoes, they’re better equipped to think like them and imagine better ways to serve them. 

3. Collaboration isn’t just a buzzword. 

The next behavior is collaboration. And to create a truly innovative culture, collaboration has to be more than just a buzzword. “Innovation happens at intersections where collisions [happen at work],” Natalie shared. But you have to ensure those meetups are actually happening. 

For instance, you may schedule regular one-on-ones between two departments that don’t cross paths regularly. Or you could set up ongoing presentations where employees share their unique insights. Either way, you’re creating a container where collaboration can happen. 

“There's a humility to understand that the smartest person in the room is the room itself.”
–  Natalie Painchaud, Director of Learning at Innosight 

4. Ambiguity is embraced and managed.

The fourth behavior is being adept in ambiguity. Or, in simpler terms, making the unknown less scary. In fact, it can be addressed, managed, and maybe even lead to a more significant win. “[The idea is that] risk isn't a bad word,” Natalie explained.

Because when organizations embrace risk, they consequently welcome new ideas that can be tried and tested. And that’s how innovation begins and eventually impacts the entire business. 

To embrace ambiguity in your business, teach employees how to ask the following questions: 

  • What is the underlying assumption here? 
  • What needs to be true to make the new solution work? 
  • How do we run an experiment and learn about the risk?

5. Employees are empowered to do something different.

The last behavior — and Natalie’s personal favorite — is empowerment. Because to get employees to think outside the box, they first have to feel authorized to do so. And that means it’s up to the leadership team and managers to make employees feel empowered to take action. 

“To do something different, you actually have to do something.”

To see if your employees feel empowered, look around your organization. Then, ask yourself: Are my people taking initiative? If so, keep rewarding that behavior. But if not, consider ways to open the playing field and encourage all employees to try something new. 

Creating an innovative culture isn’t an overnight task. It starts with encouraging everyday actions that add up to something meaningful in the long run. And while it might look slightly different for each business, it ultimately comes down to these five behaviors.

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Want a Culture That Embraces Innovation? Encourage These 5 Behaviors.

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