Innovation Culture encompasses the joint beliefs and behaviors in the organization that drive innovation as a core competence. The culture is represented by the actual convictions and behaviors of the people working in and with the organization.
Innovation Culture is not something that can be ‘designed and created’ by management. It cannot be established overnight. Common beliefs and convictions cannot be transferred by documents. Yet, an innovation culture can be cultivated by facilitating and promoting behavior that leads to the desired outcomes. The COIN Framework does just that. The COIN process establishes a set of frequent and recurring rituals that involve a broad range of people in the organization. These rituals interlink with each other and with other processes in the organization, reinforcing them rather than disturbing them. The objective is to create an innovation process that forms an integral part of the organization’s core competencies rather than a parallel track. This integrated process establishes the innovative ‘ambidextrous organization’ which has been first described by Robert Duncan in 1976.
In the COIN Framework, the following rituals generate frequent and recurring interactions between the core operation and the innovation efforts:
- The CIB Meeting
- Pitch Week
- Innovation Team standups
- Innovation Day
- Scale-up goalsetting
The CIB Meeting
The CIB Meeting takes place at least once every six weeks, during Pitch Week. In this meeting, members of the senior leadership of the organization, with the mandate to allocate budget and resources, convene to discuss the relationship between strategy and innovation, set and adjust value goals and prioritize the efforts in the portfolio kanban. The meeting is facilitated by the lead innovation coach of the organization. This ritual creates a cadence in which senior management can directly address the impact of innovation on the company’s performance and direct the value of innovation to the execution levels. In doing so, senior management forces itself to address the importance of innovation to the strategic objectives and allow them to consistently translate this priority to the execution levels through the allocation of budget and resources.
The presentations of innovation teams during Pitch Week are pivotal in creating the culture of innovation for two main reasons: firstly, they create a predictable cadence in which the value of innovation is made explicit by demonstrating progress and assigning tangible budget and resources at an appointed time. Secondly, because the pitches create a positive and inspiring atmosphere that reiterates and drives the continuous effort of innovation, even when tangible benefits are far away from the standard organizational definitions of success, such as profit or growth.
Innovation Team standups
The Innovation Team gathers each week for one day of work on its innovation. The activities of the team follow a structured process, creating and reinforcing a basis for best practices and learnings. Through this regular cadence, which is the same for all innovation teams, the process of innovation (not the content) interlinks with the other innovation rituals and together they evolves into an organizational habit. Because the Innovation team rituals take only one day per week, the innovation habit resides inside the running organization rather than next to it, allowing the innovation habit to become part of the organizational culture. As the allocation of time by teams is formalized by the CIB, this innovation habit is acknowledged and enforced by business owners and senior leadership, further establishing the innovation culture.
Innovation Day is aimed at sharing the developments of the innovation team with the rest of the organization, stakeholders and partners. The frequency and cadence of the event ensure that this communication becomes a formal and predictable presentation of the innovation process to all employees and third parties. In this way Innovation Day establishes the process of innovation not only as ‘the showcase of innovations’ but also as ‘the way in which we dot his in our organization’.
One of the primary reasons for innovations to fail in their growth is the lack of acceptance of innovations by their own organizations. The most influential reasons for this are the inability of existing processes to support the innovative technology or business models and the misalignment of existing business objectives and targets to support the growth of innovative products, services or processes (see ‘Innovation Mandate’). The formalized process of scale-up goal setting, in which Business Owners and CIB Ambassadors discuss and determine growth objectives every six weeks using innovation metrics, the innovation growth objectives are aligned with existing business objectives. In this way, these objectives become part of the running organization’s objectives, which is sensible given the fact that they use the same resources and budget.
- Duncan, R. (1976). The ambidextrous organization: Designing dual structures for innovation. Killman, R. H., L. R. Pondy, and D. Sleven (eds.) The Management of Organization. New York: North Holland. 167-188.