Thursday, September 17, 2009

Building a Culture of Innovation

In class and through our readings so far we have learned about the different types of innovations and some organizations that have developed innovative products, services, and so forth. Our discussions made me curious about organizations, such as Google and Apple, who are known not only for their innovative products, but as organizations who have built creativity and innovation in to their actual identity. I recently came across an article in BusinessWeek titled “How to Build a Culture of Innovation” about an immensely successful company in India, the Tata Group, who has made a conscious and rigorous effort to ensure that innovation is a high priority in the organization by empowering all of its employees, from top to bottom, to think creatively.

To me, the most interesting thing about Tata Group’s strategy was that they have formed what they call the Tata Group Innovation Forum (TGIF), a group of 12 senior Tata Group executives and some CEOs of the independently run companies whose main focus is on creating a concrete, detailed process for ideas to move through their company both from top to bottom, and from bottom to top. The fact that innovation is clearly a highly ranked goal of Tata Group is evident in many of their organizational practices, such as their performance review process which lists innovation as one of the 9 factors employees are evaluated on. They also offer annual “Innovator Awards” which are linked to significant bonuses, salary raises and promotions.

Other key points from Tata Group’s creative strategy include a training process which focuses on building a culture of “creative dissatisfaction,” from employee orientation to various workshops such as the “Technovator.” Tata also launched a sort of social networking site for its employees to submit and discuss their ideas, called IdeaMax (which is similar to Digg, for those of you who may be familiar with that).

The article highlights the following key lessons from Tata Group for other organizations to incorporate in their innovative strategies:

· Leadership lays the foundation
· Hire the right people, but also focus on building processes.
· Build innovation into the organization
· Use social media to tap ideas and encourage collaboration
· Celebrate innovators

You can read more about Tata Group’s innovative strategy here:

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