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4 tips for developing your innovation culture or what if David could inspire Goliath?

Published on 15 December 2023 Read 25 min

From the difficulty of generating innovative and disruptive ideas, to the prevalence of techno-push innovations, from the difficulty of employees taking the initiative to intractable debates over resource allocation… when it comes to innovation, there often comes a time when large groups hit a low point. Too selective a process, or a lack of ideas? What if, even before reviewing their innovation processes, they needed to change the way they think about innovation and the work methods they associate with it? And what if instilling a new company culture, inspired by agile methods, encouraged innovation? In this article, Alcimed invites you to discover 4 tips to help companies implement a high-impact innovation culture.

Tip n°1: Promote a work culture of learning from errors, not shaming them

Failure is often wrongly seen as an admission of weakness. Yet failure is a formative experience. We learn more from our failures than from our successes. The fail-fast model promoted by the big names of Silicon Valley and adopted by many start-ups benefits from its failures by airing them in the open and then quickly learning from them.

Encouraging risk-taking can appear destabilizing for more traditional business models, which are very often characterized by central coordination that seeks to control the entire innovation chain. To ensure that risk-taking does not lead to doing anything and everything, innovative players prefer to organize risk-taking using the OKR (Objectives Key Results) method: collectively developed ambitious objectives and essential results that are tracked and monitored, with the utmost transparency and in line with the company’s main strategic axes. Collectively developing these goals and performance metrics focuses employee productivity and empowers employees by investing in their ideas.

To make failure more acceptable, it is crucial that leaders create a work culture where feedback is seen as a gift that helps to demystify and understand mistakes, so that teams can learn from errors and quickly bounce back. Google, for example, goes so far as to highlight its failures in its idea graveyard, accessible to all (, reminding us that today’s bad idea may be ready for prime time in the future (bad timing, ahead of the market, etc.).

Tip n°2: make innovation everyone’s business

Nestlé’s motto is: it’s everyone’s job to innovate.

Restricting innovation to a team of experts is no longer seen as a key success factor. On the contrary, it’s good practice to involve every employee, putting collaboration at the heart of the company’s innovation culture. Whoever you are, you can propose ideas and take them to the highest level.

Nestlé’s motto is: it’s everyone’s job to innovate. By focusing on collaboration and diversity of profiles, the company enables everyone to flourish by mobilizing other skills and getting involved in the company’s development.

Siemens has deployed QuickStarter, a collaborative platform that enables employees to submit ideas, vote, participate in the financing of projects through crowdfunding, and build teams rich in diversity. The deployment of this collective space led to the generation of 300 additional ideas 2 years after its installation.

Find out more about how our team can support you in your innovation strategy projects >

Tip n°3: Prioritize diversity and invest in team skills

To capitalize on the diversity of skills and profiles, it is important to invest in a comprehensive HR process that enables the recruitment of employees with an entrepreneurial profile, and to support, monitor and train them in innovation issues on a personalized basis.

This search for new skills goes hand in hand with the implementation of intrapreneurship programs, enabling these employees to flourish while injecting new energy into the organization. Examples include Michelin, Airbus, Groupe SEB…

This same diversity should be encouraged when creating mixed teams, to foster the emergence of a common work culture and 360° ideas, thanks to complementary skills and human creativity.

Tip n°4: Promote transparency and bottom-up communication

In order to consolidate the first three pillars of innovation culture, a high level of transparency and effective communication channels between teams and up the organizational hierarchy are essential. Transparency enables the democratization of failure and risk-taking, and the lessons learned from them, to be more widely disseminated, while promoting the power of the collective and the skills of each individual. Open communication between leadership and operational teams will generate greater buy-in from the teams, with everyone having the opportunity to make their contribution and influence the direction of the company, whatever their hierarchical level. This is the case at Rakuten, for example, which guarantees access to its communication platform to all its employees.

In addition to drawing inspiration from the start-up spirit, major groups are increasingly adapting start-up organizational practices. This is evidenced by the systematic deployment of open-innovation strategies and the acceleration of investment in this direction by major groups, who, backed by their resources, are increasingly committed to this dynamic. Alcimed can support you in your innovation-related projects, from company culture to product innovation. Don’t hesitate to contact our team!

About the author, 

Candice, Senior Consultant in Alcimed’s Energy Environment Mobility team in France

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