Consider these numbers:
- Only 71 Fortune 500 companies have remained in business since 1955.
- At age 5, 98% of humans test as creative; by age 25, that percentage is down to 5.
What’s the common denominator?
Simply stated, if companies don’t innovate, they won’t stay in business. And as humans, our natural tendency toward creativity and innovation is trained out of us in the first couple of decades of our lives. It stands to reason, then, that an organizational culture of innovation doesn’t just happen—it must be supported, nurtured, and encouraged.
Some of the biggest barriers to innovation are based in our “humanness” and include fear, uncertainty, and risk aversion. Other barriers are more organizational—from process bottlenecks to the perceived ease of maintaining the status quo.
But as industry changes and technology advances, doing business “the way we’ve always done it” can mean that your business will no longer survive. To remain successful, organizations must be prepared for an uncertain future. When everyone thinks that way about the business, you’ve established a culture of innovation.
Think about how new ideas get incorporated into your business. Is it a top-down approach? Do you go through the proper channels to ensure you have buy-in and ownership? Imagine instead what might happen if you spread your ideas laterally throughout the organization. If you got your colleagues excited about a new and innovative idea, if the buzz from the masses was so loud it simply could not be ignored. A grassroots movement—built with empathy and excitement—is often the most successful way to bring innovation into your workplace. It’s the difference between an “I want to sell this” and an “I want to learn about this” mindset.
At Resultant, we originally accepted a list of core values that, quite honestly, was pretty generic. As our organization grew and prospered, however, we recognized that those values didn’t represent us as a company or as individuals. We knew we could no longer accept these values as our “status quo” because our day-to-day operations and our cultural mindset were not in alignment. So, we created much more meaningful and impactful values after adopting an internal, empathetic approach to defining them. We dug deep into what held meaning for us, we thought outside the box, and we iterated until we got it right. Four years later, our core values have not only been redefined, they’ve been incorporated into our culture, and they are the basis of all the services we offer.
Another way we introduce new, innovative ideas into our business is by incorporating Design Thinking into our problem-solving initiatives. Design Thinking is a philosophy and methodology designed to draw upon creativity, imagination, and logic to facilitate collaboration and drive new solutions in a human-centric way. In our Design Thinking approach, Resultant employs an empathic approach to fully understand client needs. Ultimately, taking the time to truly listen and understand makes our solutions more relevant.
An empathetic approach isn’t necessarily a common part of organizational vernacular, but innovation requires it. It’s important to recognize that there are two sides to empathy: the emotional and the cognitive. At the intersection of these two sides is where compassionate empathy resides. You’ll know you’ve reached that intersection when you—and your colleagues—are compelled to action.