Core Attributes For An Innovation Culture

philmckinney | July 16, 2012

Article

Core attributes lay the foundation for a culture of innovation

The key foundation for an innovation culture is what I call the “core attributes”.  Core attributes are those attributes the organization holds which form the foundation on which its perform work and conduct itself.  Done well, they are empowering to an organization.

Core attributes:

  • Govern personal and business relationships
  • Guide business processes
  • Clarify who you are
  • Articulate what you stand for
  • Help explain why you do business the way you do
  • Guide you on how to recruit and train
  • Inform you on how to recognize and reward
  • Guide you in making decisions
  • Underpin the whole organization
  • Require no external justification
  • Define essential tenets

Core attributes are NOT:

  • Operating practices
  • Business strategies
  • Cultural norms
  • Competencies

As an example, Zappos has defined their core attributes as:

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More With Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble

The foundation of an organizations culture is birthed when the core attributes are owned and embraced by everyone inside the organization.

So what are some of the core attributes that a culture of innovation should consider?

  • We reward risk taking –  Its is essential that organization be comfortable with risk rather than being afraid of it.  By nature, innovation is about taking risks and organizations need to both encourage and manage risk.
  • We bring creativity and ingenuity to everything we do - Ideas emerge when individuals and teams are encouraged to express their ideas with the full support of the organization.
  • We execute on the best ideasIdeas without execution are a hobby and an organization is not in the hobby business.  Enough said.

The above items are NOT the exhaustive list but simply a starting point.  Do NOT copy them and think you are done.  You need to create and own your own set of core attributes else your culture will be based on someone else’s and not your own.