A culture conducive to innovation is good for a company's bottom line and valued by both leaders and employees.

Conventional wisdom is that successful innovation depends on providing an environment where:

  • There is a tolerance for failure
  • There is a willingness to experiment
  • It is safe to speak up
  • There is a highly collaborative culture, not hierarchical.

There is no question that these behaviours translate into better innovative performance.

However, the reality is that these 'fun' elements alone do not suffice.

Tolerance for failure does not mean tolerance for incompetence. Strong leadership is imperative and rigorous discipline with a high level of individual accountability is essential.

There is a difference between what might be called 'productive' failures and 'unproductive' failures. Productive failures yield valuable information and are therefore useful in future experiments.

Innovation is not a 'free for all'. It requires leadership, transparency and clear communication within the organization about the hard realities of creating an innovative culture.

Innovation is not all 'fun and games'!

Source: Harvard Business Review, January-February 2019