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5 Types of successful Innovation – For each and every Organizational Culture

What color is your Innovation Culture?

Disruptive, incremental, radical, evolutionary, revolutionary, technology-oriented, customer oriented, cost-oriented, value-oriented, digitally or analogically. Depending on the perspective, the number of different types of types of innovation is very diverse. Each type of innovation has strengths, weaknesses, best practices, and various implementation times and potentials. Depending on the corporate and innovation culture, some approaches are more promising than others.

In order to anchor, reinforce or sustain innovation in a company, corporate or organizational culture plays a key role. At the latest since Fréderic Laloux* we know that different organizational cultures can be expressed in different colors.

  • Will you become the new boss of an organization by overthrowing the current leader? Then there is probably a red organization. Power structures are influential. The power position you have depends on the skill of the individual.
  • Amber organizations are characterized by formally fixed power structures. Rigid roles and clear definitions of right or wrong are defining.
  • Orange organizations emphasize results and shareholder value. Measurable quantities, performance measurements and key performance indicators (KPIs) are very important.
  • Family and gender equality models are the core of green organizations. The consensus is highly valued and is pursued with great effort.
  • Holistic and self-organization characterize aqua organizations. Formal hierarchies are less important than informal structures. Evolution is considered does not need a long-term plan. On the way, it is decided where the organization should go.

Every organizational culture and color has its rationale. It may be better or worse suited to achieving a specific goal in the current environment. No form is in principle good or bad. Different topics and aspects can be colored differently within an organization. Here, the topic of innovation and thus the innovation culture will be highlighted.

Innovation in different organizational Cultures

Innovation Culture | Red

TOM SPIKE - Innovation culture - red

The right of the stronger and more powerful is emphasized. Innovation is a political issue and therefore a difficult topic for anyone who is not at the head of the organization. Or at least has a very good connection to the top. Whether the ruler perceives innovation as progress or rebellion, decides what happens to the innovation and the idea generator. The division of tasks and areas of responsibility are clearly divided. Unauthorized attempts without prior consent from above are extremely risky.

Innovation Culture | Amber

TOM SPIKE - innovation culture - amber

Stability is very important. As a rule, innovations are not supported until they have already proven their worth. Anyone who wants to advance an innovation would do well to prepare it below the surface. That is to exemplify a successful implementation and to remain inconspicuous until finished. People better take care, not to violate any written or unwritten laws. If the attempt succeeds, well done. Failures are better to be concealed as far as possible.

Innovation Culture | Orange

TOM SPIKE - innovation culture - orange

The chance of success for an innovation stands and falls with a watertight business case. If a supervisor can be won as a supporter, the chances for the required budget and further support are good. A well-thought-out plan, from development, implementation, and market introduction to return on investment ROI, will be required sooner or later.

Innovation Culture | Green

TOM SPIKE - Innovation culture - green

Comprehensive acceptance of innovation is a must. What is not understood and supported by everyone, has poor chances to succeed. Communication and explanation play a crucial role. Likewise, the question which impact innovation has on the own group in the organization. Innovations must support existing values ​​and therefore fit well with the organization’s vision.

Innovation Culture | Aqua

TOM SPIKE - Innovation culture - turquoise

Comprehensive acceptance is key within small groups. With the help of a few supporters, innovation can be driven, developed and brought to market. Informal networks are an important and legitimate way to advance new projects. Economic viability are not necessary to gain supporters and drive innovation. Opportunities for sustainable revenue streams are often considered only after market launch.

Organizations and companies have different cultures and unique goals. Corporate culture and goals together are already a very good basis for developing an innovation strategy. For any innovation strategy, overcoming hurdles within the organization is the first step. The success of innovative products, services or business models on the market then depends on the basic acceptance by the customer, comparable offers from competitors and the long-term viability of the innovation for the company. This comes full circle with the different types of innovations.  A successful innovation strategy relies on those kinds of innovations that fit the corporate and innovation culture and that are successful in the market.

Furthermore, what Peter Drucker says: “Culture eats the strategy for breakfast” and innovation too. But it also depends on how appetizing it is.

*) Frédric Laloux, Reinventing Organizations, 2014

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