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The innovative culture in organizations – Insights from Kantar Employer branding and innovation expert Katarina Önell

If you were to ask seniors leader in organizations about current priorities and development focus, building or strengthening the innovative culture is highly likely to come up in many of the answers. And that is for a good reason; this is one of the most needed traits of organizations. Organizations need an innovative culture to stay relevant and secure future brand growth.

But how do you build innovative cultures? Our Employer branding and innovation expert Katarina Önell visited the Swedish Innovation podcast to talk about how to measure and nurture innovative cultures. In her talk, Katarina points out that companies cannot afford to continue to operate in the same way that they have done historically: “The biggest trend right now is the need to innovate everything because of the state that the world is in, independently of what industry we are in.” Katarina also points out that demography and the digital change are key drivers: “We do not have enough people to do work in the ways we have done up until now. We also must change from a sustainable perspective”, Katarina says.

Moreover, Katarina addresses three areas in great need of innovation right now: mobility, food, and health.

- “Specifically, mobility is rapidly changing. We need to change the way we move ourselves, the way we transport things, the way we travel, the way we get around where we live. Also, how we produce food and what we eat is changing and a lot of innovation is going on. Simply because we will not have enough food for everyone if we do not do that, and we will not stay healthy.“

Three key takeaways connected to measuring innovation within an organization:

  1. Establish a clear common purpose and direction 
    This will guide you and help you be innovative within a clear framework. Without a purpose you can stray away from the core need and end up being “innovative” in such broad perspective that you get nothing done. Secure a clear purpose to move towards. Measure progress by asking your people for feedback on what they know and whether they see and feel the purpose in action - do they feel that they are working towards the purpose and goals and can they see how their own individual work contributes?
  2. Stay open, diverse, and inclusive
    Reassure that you support and strive for an open culture where everyone can speak openly and have a place to voice and share ideas. Everyone can make mistakes now and then - make sure that it is perceived as ok and that it is a step towards learning. Follow up continuously.
  3. Activate cross-collaboration
    Measure the degree of collaboration in the organisation. This is not only about collaboration within your nearest team, but also that you are open and co-creative with others in your company and also externally.

As a final point, Katarina highlighted a necessary step before measuring; the importance of defining what you mean by “innovative companies”, and what you as an organization look for in innovation. The number of patents will tell you something different than measuring and visualising culture and behaviours.

- “Rating future innovative companies should probably, if we are to wish, be about developing new ways of acting and working while at the same time contributing to the world that we are living in. That is what we need in order to be sustainable over time.” Katarina says.

Find out more. Listen to the full podcast here.

Katarina Önell

Client Director

070-184 22 82

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