To understand the journey you have to do the walking

5 Truths about innovative cultures


1. The cliché "celebrate failure" misses the point. Celebrate learning, not failure

Building a culture of competence requires clearly articulated expected standards of performance. Maintaining a healthy balance between tolerating productive failures and rooting out incompetence is not easy, but needed for an innovative culture.


2. Willingness to experiment, but highly disciplined

Disciplined oriented cultures select experiments carefully on the basis of their potential learning value, and they design them rigorously to yield as much information as possible to the costs. They establish clear criteria upfront and face the facts generated.


3. The brutally candid organization outperforms the nice one, every time

Create a psychologically safe climate in which individuals feel they can speak truthfully and open about problems without fear of reprisal. Being candid requires for leaders to set the example to not just invite criticism but demand it, also on own ideas.


4. Collaboration but with individual accountability

Often collaboration gets confused with consensus. While consensus is poison for rapid decision making and navigating complex problems associated with transformational innovation. Ultimately someone has to make a decision and be accountable for it. Leaders can encourage accountability by publicly holding themselves accountable "You take the risk, I take the blame".


5. Flat organization but strong leadership

Flat organizations require stronger leadership than hierarchical ones. As flat organizations devolve into chaos when leadership fails to set clear strategic priorities and directions. It requires leaders to articulate compelling visions and stratgies while being adept to operational issues.


(from HBR Jan-Feb 2019)