Innovation is not something that just happens. In fact, innovation occurs when seemingly unrelated things come together in a new way (Berkun, 2010), often at an unexpected time. For this reason, organizations need to foster cultures that are conducive to innovation in order to allow innovation to be discovered at just the right moment. This means from a day-to-day perspective, particular behaviors, attitudes, and practices need to be embedded into the culture in order to make innovation a possibility.
The first thing that needs to be dealt with is organizational antibodies. These are individuals who naturally respond in a negative way to organizational change, primarily due to the discomfort change can create and the uncertainty that comes with change (Davila et al., 2012). Organizational leaders need to develop a culture that embraces change and is flexible with the uncertainty that is created by change.
The second thing that needs to happen to foster innovation day-to-day is to exert strong leadership in regards to the strategy, philosophy, and attitude regarding the organization’s approach to innovation (Berkun, 2010). Leaders are catalysts for change, and it is the province of their existence (Kouzes & Posner, 2012). If change is not occurring then organizational leaders are simply managers of the status quo. It is the work of leaders to inspire people to do things differently, to struggle against uncertain odds, and to persevere toward a misty image of a better future (Kouzes & Posner, 2012). This struggle against uncertain odds creates energy, excitement, and passion within the organization that compels an openness, and even a pursuit, for innovation.
By neutralizing organizational antibodies and exerting strong leadership of innovation, a culture grows and develops that is open, inviting, and prepared to be innovative when the moment arrives (Northouse, 2012). They are daily positioned to innovate.
Berkun, S. (2010). The myths of innovation (1. updated and expanded pbk. ed). Beijing: O’Reilly.
Davila, T., Epstein, M. J., & Shelton, R. D. (2013). Making innovation work: how to manage it, measure it, and profit from it (Updated ed). Upper Saddle River, N.J: FT Press.
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2012). The leadership challenge: how to make extraordinary things happen in organizations (5th ed). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: theory and practice (6th ed). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.