Organizations nowadays are challenged with contending in an environment where once tried and tested methods no longer have the same lasting impact. Today, we live in an age where organizational culture—specifically a culture of innovation—is believed to be the greatest differentiator among enterprises.     

A culture that sustains and supports innovation is one that builds on openness, intuition and faith in unexpected possibilities. It is a culture that is based on experimentation and discovery and requires lesser rules and more space to spread its wings. Companies with cultures that place a high value on innovation also understands that driving innovation is impossible without taking a necessary amount of risk which at times can meet with failures. But, what’s essential is how a firm can attempt to extract learnings and new insights from them, rather than sweeping the failures under the rug, that eventually can lead to a new success.

Interestingly for a firm, innovation is the mother of all necessities but building a culture where the next big idea can take birth is a huge challenge and it is pivoted on the leadership of the organization. Therefore, for an innovation process to begin in any organization it is indispensable that organization must first put right leaders and leadership structure in place. 

The leaders are the catalysts that create and manage the environment, organizational culture and strategies to encourage and sustain innovation, effectiveness and success in the organization.  The use of innovative thinking and leadership is the key to explore what’s new, what’s better, and what’s next. 

To create a culture that is truly innovative, leader who inspire change, probe - “How can I create an environment for innovation to transpire”, instead of pitching mere a vision for the future. Such leaders tap into the collective wisdom of every employee in the organization and generate new growth from these slivers of wisdom. A stimulating leader values creativity and creates challenges that make work in the organization imaginative. The true leader establishes a culture of support, collaboration and fun which helps in allowing innovation to flourish all the more and deliver meaningful results. Creative leaders strives to make the future exciting and not frightening. 

Another key driver of innovation is diversity which lies at the heart of an organization. A diverse and inclusive workforce drives innovation, foster creativity and guide business strategies. When people with diverse backgrounds and talents join an organization, they tend to inject new ideas and challenge the organizational mindsets. Therefore, leaders must actively encourage creativity and innovation through creating a more conducive environment for diversity to thrive. 

A ground-breaking approach to problem solving, product creation and operations help companies to lead, stay competitive and create whole new sectors and spot lucrative opportunities. Only when innovation is regular and expected will the future of an organization begin to look much healthier. To succeed, innovation needs to be built into the very DNA of the company. 

Sameer Wadhawan is the former Head of HR for Coca-Cola India. He is now heading the ‘Franchise Capability and Business transformation function at Coca-Cola India