In today’s lightning fast-paced marketplace, having a culture of innovation is the key for many businesses to differentiate themselves from the competition. Recent research has revealed some key strategies to bring innovation through the doors of your organisation.

Operating your own business in today’s globalised market often means facing fierce worldwide competition, and entrepreneurs across industries are facing the ordeal of making their business stand out in the crowd. Considering the challenging dynamics of the market, ‘innovate or perish’ is a reality many entrepreneurs are struggling with in order to maintain their competitive advantage. 

But how can you foster and develop an ongoing culture of innovation for your business? Recent trends highlighted in the 2019 Learning & Development report (L&D) have revealed key strategies from practising training professionals that are helping businesses foster sustainable cultures of innovation and develop their competitive edge.

From techniques as simple as implementing agile L&D functions to looking outside your organisation for insights, discover how innovation can help you and your company navigate the complexities of operating a business in the 21st century.

Building An Agile Infrastructure, Top-to-Bottom

According to the report, a whopping 57% of companies are prioritising leadership and management training over all other training areas. Well-trained management is fundamental when it comes to operating a successful business, but the skills and capabilities needed to run the core of a business are different than those needed to foster a culture of innovation.

Implementing an agile L&D function is a direct way to make flexibility inherent to your operations strategy and encourage innovative practises. Anthony Sandonato, VP of Learning and Development at Wyndham Destinations has found that an agile L&D strategy has been the key to aligning training priorities with the overall priorities of the business, allowing innovation to flourish. Wyndham’s L&D function, “is built upon that flexible framework, and designed to remain nimble and adjust to continuous organisational changes without compromising either the speed or quality of our talent development strategies.” 

Agility will not only align strategies within your business, it will help you adapt to the ever-changing needs and opportunities of the market(s) you’re operating in. Emphasising agility in the training room will give you and your employees the right tools to adapt on-the-fly in the field, and to stay abreast (and ahead!) of your competition.

Look Beyond To Make Innovative Change Within

Innovation comes with risk-taking. Understanding what new ideas and perspectives are applicable to your business and which ones should be retired is an important part of shifting your organisational culture towards innovative practice. But the change won’t happen overnight.

Training is a key way to implement a culture of innovation as it introduces new ideas to employees of all levels. According to’s 2019 L&D report, the majority of market challengers predict a 41% increase in their L&D budget. Reconsidering your current training practises and thinking outside the box when it comes to training is an effective way to at least begin shifting your workplace culture.

Karen Bicking, the Head of US Learning & Talent Development at Bayer has seen the impact of looking outside company walls to find innovative practises from colleagues at other companies and other training providers.

“You can influence innovation when you’re living it,” says Bicking. “Read externally what other organisations are doing. I’ve personally reached out to people who have spoken out at conferences and people are generally very willing to have conversations in the learning community.” By looking outside your business for insights, you can learn and observe techniques that are working for other companies or competitors, and make sure that you’re staying ahead of the game in your industry.

Not all businesses have the resources to offer in-house training, and external providers can offer effective and tailored solutions to understand the specific ins and outs of your company in order to make a culture of innovation a real possibility. According to the report, 72% of companies with revenue growth have implemented innovative technologies like augmented reality and game-based learning into their L&D function. By bringing in external training providers, you can illustrate innovative practises to your employees without taking on the responsibility of implementing innovative training yourself.

The Takeaway

Implementing a culture of innovation isn’t a simple endeavour, but by taking the time to plan out an effective L&D strategy you can develop a sustainable culture of innovation from the ground up. Emphasising innovation in all all of your teams means that your entire organisation will be working to stay competitive, and you’ll be well-equipped to tackle the daily challenges faced by entrepreneurs around the world. Creating an agile infrastructure and seeking insights from others within your industry are simple but efficient ways to get the process started.   

The foundation of successful innovation is a team composed of motivated people, fuelled by a genuine interest in the work. At AfCE, we see a strong correlation between team personalities and performance. Request your own free Intrapreneur DNA test here.

About this post: 

This was a guest post by Max Maccarone. Max is a content editor for the higher education portal and professional development search engine Originally from Canada, Max relocated to Stockholm after graduating from York University in Toronto. An avid traveller, Max is dedicated to creating diverse and engaging learning and development content for a wide-range of publications.