How Can Agencies Create a Culture For Innovation?

lightbulbs on blue background, idea concept

Innovation is the buzzword of today, every agency is campaigning that they do it but very few are actually creating a culture where innovation can cultivate, says The Works’ Cassie Sacks.

Cassie Sacks
Posted by Cassie Sacks

There is increasing evidence that innovation is a significant factor in creating higher engagement and therefore leading to increased organisational performance. It’s also been identified as a key strategy for growth and sustainability.

Innovation also speaks to our next generation of employees. The want for innovation is a growing trend amongst graduates and as the next generation of workforce. Many highly ambitious creative staff won’t stick around if their employer isn’t breaking new ground.

Ultimately it comes down to the senior managers and the executive team to create a culture of innovation and here are some simple steps to get you started:

Inspire curiosity

Most people in the workplace don’t feel comfortable thinking differently even in creative agencies. Most fear peer and management ridicule or negative consequences. Creating a culture where giving staff permission to come up with new ideas is important. This starts from the top, with executives opening the doors to different ideas and ways of thinking from all corners across the organisation.

Cut out the crap

Bureaucracy and rigid process suffocate creativity and innovation. Most great ideas die in the layers of hierarchy and never see the light of day. If you want to embrace innovation you need to reduce the red tape. Give staff the license to drive and allow them a safe place to crash. Sometimes in the search for innovation you’ll have casualties but showing your employees it’s okay to fail generally empowers them to find a solution. Failing without consequence is important.

Environment

Although a physical space is important, the mental environment is crucial. A lot of agencies that confess to being innovative by creating ‘innovation labs’, ‘think tanks’ and ‘tech hubs’, all of which are great but are pointless unless they are used and allow people room to think as well as giving them time. Establishing a culture of collaboration will see the juices start to flow and this is the beginning of creating an environment for innovation (not so much an innovation space).

There are some preconceptions that innovation is a radical thing, things that change the world; others believe it’s incremental, a small change that may lead to something bigger. Either way leaders need to create a culture of innovation if they want to drive high performance and keep their employees engaged.

Cassie Sacks is the people & development director at The Works Sydney