How to build a culture of innovation

The word culture written our in building blocks

Innovation is a well-worn word when it comes to the world of business. According to McKinsey, 86% of CEOs believe innovation is critical to growth, but what qualifies as ‘innovation’, and how exactly do you cultivate it?  

In this article, you will find:

  • A definition and explanation of innovation 
  • Why innovation is so vital in today’s climate  
  • Strategies for fostering a culture of innovation in your business   

Defining innovation 

Innovation can be defined as the process of creating new ideas, products, or services that add value to the market and improve the way we live, work, and interact with the world around us. Put simply, it’s any idea that creates value. 

Often framed as the lifeblood of corporate survival and growth and tightly coupled with change, organisations use it to influence the environment or to adapt to changes within it.  There are many types of innovation, from streamlining your processes to using more sustainable materials for manufacturing.  

Why is innovation so essential in an organisation?

Innovation is a key driver of success and growth for businesses as it helps them keep ahead of the curve and stay relevant to consumers. A culture of innovation encourages creativity, risk-taking, and continuous improvement, leading to the development of new products, services, and processes that can increase revenue and market share. Ultimately, this will help to improve your profitability and increase your longevity as an organisation.

How do you cultivate a culture of innovation?

Establish how innovative you currently are 

When it comes to fostering innovation, it’s essential to first look at your organisation and ask yourself:   

  • Where are we currently? 
  • Where would we like to be?  
  • What things are we doing well? 
  • What could we be doing better?  

By having a better understanding of where you’re currently at, you can take the next steps with confidence.

After all, innovation is a process. Innovate NI’s four-step Innovation Framework serves as a guide for businesses, taking you from ideation to commercialisation. By completing each step of the framework, you increase the likelihood of success. Take our free Innovation Assessment to find out how innovative you currently are.  

Create psychological security 

Psychological safety refers to environments where employees feel safe to speak up, share new ideas and admit mistakes without fear of negative consequences. Research conducted by Harvard University found that organisations that foster an environment of trust, support, and recognition for employees were more likely to have a culture of innovation.  

Encourage collaboration 

According to a study by Deloitte, companies with a culture of collaboration are five times more likely to outperform their competitors. And in a way, collaboration is essential for innovation. When channels of communication are open, employees can share ideas and build on one another’s strengths and experiences to find new solutions and more efficient ways of doing things.

Colleagues standing in open plan office discussing ideas on post-it notes

Innovate NI has everything you need to turn your idea into a value-generating product or service. So, whether you're considering developing a new product or pushing an existing product into new markets, Innovate NI’s four-step innovation framework, assessment, recognition and standards can help fuel your innovation. 


Innovation Assessment

It's easy to take part in the Innovate NI Programme. Simply complete the assessment to discover where you are on the Innovation Framework today.