Innovation Culture: The Third Dimension of Continuous Learning Culture

In the third part of this series on the three dimensions of Continuous Learning Culture, we’ll look at innovation culture. Previously, we provided an overview of the first two dimensions – Learning Organization and Relentless Improvement –  and how they provide the framework and foundation for a true continuous learning organization.


Innovation culture is the third critical piece of the puzzle, and it’s what allows organizations to not only learn from their mistakes, but also to continuously improve and adapt to change. This article will explore what innovation culture is, why it’s so important, and how you can create it within your own organization.

What is innovation culture?

Innovation culture is all about creating an environment where new ideas are encouraged, nurtured, and allowed to flourish. It’s about encouraging employees to think outside the box, take risks, and experiment with new ways of doing things. An innovation culture is characterized by innovative people, time and space, go see, experimentation and feedback, pivot without mercy or guilt, and innovation riptides. In the following section,  we’ll take a closer look at each of these characteristics.


Innovative people: The first ingredient for creating an innovation culture is having innovative people on your team. These are the employees who are always looking for new ways to improve, and who are never satisfied with the status quo. They’re constantly asking “what if” and “why not” questions, and they’re always striving to find better ways to do things.


Time and space: In order to encourage innovation, you need to give employees the time and space to pursue new ideas. This means creating an environment where employees feel comfortable taking risks, and where failure is seen as an opportunity to learn rather than a reason for punishment. It also means providing employees with the resources they need to experiment and test new ideas, without fear of repercussions.


Go see: In order to truly understand how your customers use your products or services, you need to go out and observe them in their natural environment. This means getting out of the office and talking to actual users, rather than relying on customer surveys or focus groups. Only by observing customers can you gain the insights you need to design better products and services.


Experimentation and feedback: The best way to test new ideas is to experiment, and the best way to learn from those experiments is to solicit feedback from employees and customers. Encourage employees to try new things, and then solicit their feedback on what worked and what didn’t. This feedback will be invaluable in helping you refine your ideas and make them even better.


Pivot without mercy or guilt: One of the most important aspects of innovation culture is the willingness to pivot when necessary. This means being willing to abandon an idea that isn’t working, even if you’ve invested a lot of time and resources in it. It’s better to move on to something new than to keep beating your head against the wall with something that isn’t working.


Innovation riptides: The final ingredient for creating an innovation culture is what we call innovation riptides. These are periods of intense innovation activity, where new ideas are constantly being generated and tested. These riptides usually occur during periods of change or upheaval, when the status quo is no longer working and organizations need to find new ways to survive and thrive.


These are the main characteristics of an innovation culture. But how can you instill these values in your own organization? The following section provides examples of organizations that have successfully created an innovation culture:


1. Google: One of the most famous examples of an organization with an innovation culture is Google. Google has a long history of encouraging its employees to experiment and take risks. In fact, the company has a formal program called “20 percent time,” where employees are encouraged to spend 20 percent of their time working on projects that are outside of their normal job duties. This has led to some of Google’s most popular products, such as Gmail and Google Maps.


2. IDEO: IDEO is a design firm that is well-known for its culture of innovation. The company has a philosophy of “fail early, fail often,” which means that it encourages its employees to experiment and take risks. This has led to some of IDEO’s most famous products, such as the Apple Mouse and the Palm Pilot.


3. Procter & Gamble: Procter & Gamble is another company with a strong culture of innovation. The company has a formal program called Connect + Develop,”   which encourages its employees to collaborate with outside partners to develop new products and services. This has led to some of Procter & Gamble’s most successful products, such as Tide laundry detergent and Gillette razors.


The main takeaways from these examples are that innovation cultures require a commitment from the top down, and they need to be supported by formal programs and processes. If you want to create an innovation culture in your own organization, you’ll need to start by making a commitment to these values from the top down. Then, you can put programs and processes in place to support employees in their efforts to innovate.



At Agileseventeen, we can help you create an innovation culture in your organization. We have a team of experts who can help you design and implement programs and processes that will support your employees in their efforts to innovate.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you create an innovation culture in your organization: