Innovation may lead brands in their respective industry but culture defines success and sustainability of brands within their markets. In this day and age culture and innovation are technically inseparable, which calls for strategic management and leadership; free of subjectivity and manipulation. When brands go through expensive change management and re-branding exercise; that means their culture has been suffering. Therefore, it is incredibly important to get things right from the beginning; recruitment. By hiring people who are not like you but more experienced and knowledgeable than you; not only you do not lose your job but in fact you earn more credibility and loyalty amongst your colleagues and more importantly in your boss’s eyes.
Culture is nothing other than actions and actions can make or break reputation and credibility. Innovations can be easily imitated even if patented but hard to imitate good culture; simply because culture is all about people and their attitude.
People innovate, people run businesses and people do business with people; people do not want interacting with those who constantly think “what is in it for me” (WIIIFM). No matter how innovative one’s business is, if their business culture is based on WIIIFM; failure is guaranteed. In fact, this is the modern version of exploitation. Simply because mutual benefits are not considered in such way of thinking; principles of ethics are undermined. Brands with such attitude would immediately question their own authority and credibility within the market. For example below is a very nicely worded request from a reasonably successful PR software company to a reasonably successful social media consultant to provide strategic consultancy and commercial training to 15 business development managers in return for a cup of coffee:
- So, what do you think about this organisation and their culture? One may argue
- How respectful their innovation would appear to you based on their culture?
- Would you like doing business with them?
- Would you like to use their product?
- What have brought you to your conclusion about this particular organisation?
Innovation is not necessarily about coming up with new things; it is however about doing things in a new way. Simplifying is the new sophisticated; and as Mark Zuckerberg once said “The trick isn’t adding stuff, it’s taking away”. So, it is obvious that innovation itself got to have some kind of culture and innovation culture is vital to innovation success. To ensure innovation success, brands need people with sense of purpose with good personality and personal values; as these are fundamental elements of culture. As it is obvious, using the terms culture and innovation as buzzwords are quite different to live the values and principles of culture and innovation.
To create an innovation culture within an organisation brands need to look for inspiring individuals with leadership qualities while giving them the authority to change; this will ensure improved productivity and profitability. This is widely due to a genuine relationship which will be built between a business and their audience.
Innovation can be easily bought but culture is priceless; so first comes culture. Put your house in order first then think of innovation. Without the right culture even the best innovations won’t get the credit they well deserve.