Three tips for cultivating an innovation culture

An innovation culture demands more than pinball machines, bean bag chairs, indoor slides and hackathons. It’s about valuing people, says Wood & Grieve Engineers’ chief executive officer José Granado.

Granado says WGE’s team has always prided itself on “doing things differently” – and this formula has driven the company’s growth and success since it opened its doors in 1961.

“But 56 years later, the world is a very different place and technology is moving faster than ever before,” he says.

“We hear a lot of where the future of technology is headed, but what does this mean for businesses right now?”

Granado says organisational culture plays a central role in fostering the flexibility, adaptability and innovation needed to operate in a rapidly changing world.

“Culture and people are the most important assets in a business toolkit. The key challenge for business in the age of disruption is to cultivate and maintain a workplace culture that values people, embraces change and is led by fearless innovators who are open to new ideas.”

At the heart of WGE’s innovation culture are three principles, Granado says.

 

  1. Invest in people

    A company’s innovation capacity comes down to its people, Granado says. And that means building knowledge and skills one individual at a time.

    “A forward-thinking workplace can only be achieved when everyone is valued for their contributions, where ideas are shared, performance is rewarded and work-life balance is visible,” he says.

    “We don’t just respect the individuality of each team member at WGE – we embrace it. It’s diversity of thought that drives innovation.”

     

  2. Balance autonomy with accountability

    An empowered workforce is one that recognises autonomy and accountability as two sides of the same coin, Granado says.

    “Autonomy drives creativity and engagement, but the counterweight to that autonomy is consistent measurement of progress.

    “We establish clear expectations and set KPIs, so that our people understand the objectives – but then we trust them to make decisions and progress new initiatives without red tape.”

     

  3. Teach innovation skills

Innovation isn’t just about coming up with ideas, Granado says.

“People need to understand what to do with their good ideas. We give our people the training and resources they need to identify innovative solutions and then implement them.”

 

“Innovation culture” is something of a cliché in today’s uncertain world, Granado adds, and some employees may be cynical.

“It’s the responsibility of business leaders to take charge and demonstrate how an innovation culture creates new value – for our clients, for our industry and for our people. When you do this, others will follow.”

WGE employs 550-plus staff, including more than 230 professional engineers. Learn more about WGE’s capabilities.