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How can Companies Establish a Culture of innovation?

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Rakesh Wadhwa:

How can companies establish a culture of idea generation or innovation? There may be some fundamental changes that one would have to make in the organization. So what is a good way to go about it?

Keith Coats:

Building a culture takes time. So all too often innovation has been a very popular Word in business for some time.

A CEO is someone who reads a book and subtracts “You got to be innovative. I want you to be innovative” but there's a lot that might need to be unpicked in a business in order to generate ideas and be truly innovative. One of the things I'd look at is your incentives or your remuneration systems.

Take sales, for example, we often incentivize sales teams on a competitive basis. We reward those who bring in the money. We don't encourage our sales teams to share leads because you might be a better position than me to land this prospective client. But if I'm going to be measured on my bottom line, what I contribute to sales, I might then be very reluctant to pass on a good lead to somebody who's better positioned. And the result is we lose the business. So very often we incentivize people on a very strong competitive basis, but we preach the language of collaboration and those two clash.

Another one would be - To what extent do your people ask questions and have the Liberty to ask questions?

Creating a culture of innovation as a little bit like getting fit, it's going to take hard work. It's going to require habitual practice. And it's probably going to seem a little bit worse and weird before it gets better.

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