Create a culture where employees thrive at innovation


Innovation is generally considered to be the result of a process that brings together various novel ideas in a way that they affect society, human behaviour and the industrial mechanism, but we can create culture to thrive at innovation.

‘Innovation is not easy, but then again, neither is table tennis.’ -Seth Godin.

In a previous blog, we talked about intrapreneurs leading innovation in a corporate setting. Intrapreneurs are generally entrepreneurs who try to solve a genuine problem by offering a feasible solution in an affordable way, but within an existing organization. We also talked about the advantages of being an Intraprenuer and also the importance of an entrepreneurial company culture for intrapreneurs to thrive at innovation.

Read more: Intrapreneurs Leading Innovation in a Corporate Setting


Why create an Entrepreneurial Company Culture?

We have established that successful innovation requires the right people and environment. We will dive into  this a bit more in this article. Companies trying to create a culture of innovation often seem to rely on facilities such as foosball tables, free lunches, funky workspaces, hosting events like hackathons. Do they really help foster and encourage innovation? Maybe they increase employees’ work morale?

Let’s take a step back to look at why we innovate. Research has shown that there are multiple variables that are impactful on innovation culture. The reasons why we innovate could be because of the increasing competition, globalization, changing workforce demographic, higher consumer expectations, or when the company is facing disruption from new players and technologies. All in all, innovation is a surviving skill and is mandatory in the business world today.


Front-line employees to enable and thrive at innovation

It is clear that a preconditioned space to centralize innovation and concentrate effort on innovating is crucial. This does not necessary mean a physical space, but rather a cultural space or hub where intrapreneurs, innovators can come together to innovate. There is the perception that it is up to the management or front-line employees to support creativity and innovation, or creating a culture where risk-taking is accepted and encouraged. However, it is an area that is challenging for front-line employees or individual managers to tackle on their own. Therefore, we also need to look at how we enable employees to thrive at innovation, iterate ideas, fail, reiterate until they succeed, by leveraging the support and resources given to them within this space.

Read more: Incubating ideas within a company: bring innovation home


Encouraging employees to be entrepreneurial to spur innovation and creativity

If you have established a space within your organization as your innovation hub, it is then crucial to focus on placing the right people within your organization in it so they can thrive at innovation. How do we define the right people in this context? To make it easier, focus on these three points.


01. Sense of challenge is essential to encourage innovation and creativity

It is something that employees or intrapreneurs could influence more individually. Research has confirmed the importance of challenge in driving innovation. A sense of challenge is key to better innovation outputs. In a 2014 review of several meta-analyses, Silvia da Costa, from the University of the Basque Country, and several of her colleagues examined the difference in creativity for those in challenging versus non-challenging roles. The researchers found that if people are put in a role that challenges them, 67 per cent will demonstrate above-average creativity and innovation in their performance. In contrast, only 33 per cent of people in “easy” jobs show above- average innovativeness.’ So it is completely acceptable and a good thing when your employees complain and moan about various challenges.


02. Identifying the right type of people to innovate

Generally, they are people with ideas, people who are passionate about their ideas – people who have an entrepreneurial spirit. At the end of the day, we are talking about creating and developing new business ideas through innovation. However, there is a parameter in place that can help hand-pick and identify potential intrapreneurs and innovators. Our intrapreneur DNA test helps identify a person’s traits such as their level of openness, are they curious, are they problem solvers, or are they collaborative or competitive, etc. It is a test developed by social scientist Neil Christiansen, through analyzing more than 35,000 entrepreneurs. The result has shown 85% accuracy in predicting entrepreneurial success. So you don’t end up with the excuse that you had the wrong people to innovate if your initiative fails. It is also a way to help your company collect a set of data and measure success, especially when corporate entrepreneurship is your company’s long-term goal.
(If you’re interested to find out if you have intrapreneur qualities, then take our Intrapreneur DNA test that assesses and scores key intrapreneurial personality traits and behaviours – email [email protected] for a free link.)


03. Support them internally and externally by leveraging experts and practitioner’s supervision

We previously talked about how you can leverage HR to enable and facilitate the process of creating the intraprenuerial space and identifying high potentials within your organization. We at AfCE help you select and qualify the right people to go through our programs such as the 2-3 day Lean Innovation Workshop, or the 3 month Lean Intrapreneurship Program. Participants engage themselves in experimenting with ideas, customer interactions, interactive sessions to learn about lean methodologies and to accelerate their ideas into viable businesses. There are also hands-on assignments every week where we ask the participants to invest a minimum of 10 hours a week to complete them. Your employees will also be led by industry experts and learn best practices on how to implement entrepreneurial ways to innovate. We also train and help companies develop their own innovation catalyst to pass on that knowledge to their peers within the company.

Our program also utilises structural methods rather than rigid processes. This is to ensure that employees and participants get to work with freedom but follow a guideline at the same time. This guideline will then be your measure for successes.


We would like to hear how you set up your entrepreneur culture within your company and how it is helping employees thrive at innovation. If you would like to find out more about our structure, do get in touch at [email protected]