Do you need “Approvals“ to Innovate?

Do you need "Approvals" to Innovate?

February 9, 2017

 

Executives are generally risk averse and don’t feel like they have the freedom to fail, especially when they face constant pressure to exceed – forget merely achieving – quarterly targets. At the heart of digital transformation is a conducive culture that not only allows innovation, but also rewards risk taking.

 

"It's about having a sense of freedom to make mistakes and in the process, find the next big breakthrough."

 

Some organizations actively embrace a culture of Innovation, allowing employees to engage in projects that aren't necessarily tied to a quarterly revenue goal. For example, Google famously used to encourage employees to carve out 20% of their time to pursue ideas outside their core responsibilities. That’s how we got Gmail, Google Maps and Adsense. Not only are these products major breakthroughs for Google, but also contribute significantly to revenues. As a matter of fact, Adsense alone is responsible for around 25 percent of Google’s annual revenue.

 

So what is Digital Culture?

 

Digital culture is much more than technology adoption. Digital culture can be defined as a mindset, a set of beliefs, a way of life. Bigger than technology, it incorporates the belief that we can do better if we are more collaborative, connected, adaptive, flexible, transparent, data driven, customer centric and agile. It is a belief that we can get things wrong sometimes, but if we work together and take an iterative approach we can create solutions for our problems and seize our opportunities.

 

How to embrace a Digital Culture

 

To make the transition from traditional to Digital culture, you need to keep three things in mind:

 

1) People

2) Collaboration / Sharing

3) Rules

 

Secondly, creating a digital culture needs collaboration. In other words, an end to working in silos preserving knowledge and insights within departments or teams. Ultimately , the best bet is when digital is embedded throughout the organization and the Chief Digital Officer is just an influencer and thought leader. In a McKinsey post - "The Secrets of Going Digital", they say “it matters less about the boxes and lines and organizational structure or who owns whom. It doesn’t matter if the developers happen to report to IT or the CDO. But the CDO needs to be able to influence those developers, needs to be able to demand-manage and get the right set of priorities acted on fast enough by those guys.”

 

Thirdly, Implementation of any transformation requires rules and discipline. However, there's no set framework or silver bullet to success. No one size fits all approach. Each organization needs to carve its own set of rules to embed a digital culture. Success in digital involves the combination of having a well-defined digital strategy, having the appropriate digital talent in the organization, and then establishing a culture of trust and innovation that allows you to streamline decision making, constantly test-and-learn and adapt your strategy to better serve your customers.

 

Author: Gaurav Oberoi