Welcome back to our blog series on Creating a Culture of Curiosity. In the last post, we talked about the second essential around the meetings you run and changing the mundane meeting mindset, which can lead to breakthrough innovation. Today we are going to discuss the third essential to the culture you get is in the recognition you give. As we consider what it takes to “Create a Culture of Curiosity” to drive innovation in your organization, one reality stands front of mind for me. Culture is not what you say, but what you do.

Consider the following questions:
  • Have you identified the innovators and opinion leaders across the organization?
  • Who are you typically promoting innovators rather than those who follow the norm?
  • Are you rewarding those who innovate?
  • Do you publicly recognize those who innovate?

How many of these questions did you answer “Yes” to? In today’s market of rapid change, if you aren’t answering “yes” to each of these questions, you put yourself at risk to falling behind the competition and ultimately becoming obsolete. Are you identifying, promoting, compensating and celebrating those that are innovating in your organization? Who are those that are creating a culture of curiosity through the questions they ask and more importantly the actions they take in your organization?

Going through a transition

I was recently in the office of an executive at a client I have worked with for over 10 years. He is currently the president for one of their business units that is going through a transition due to a massive shift in the market around technology. As this shift occurs they must maintain the clients on their current technology while evolving the customer base to the latest and greatest technology and also staving off competitors trying to take advantage of the shift. It is a common story as solutions evolve in the marketplace and the life cycle of a new offering shortens with continuing advances in technology. I have recently experienced this myself with my wife in the installation of a new home entertainment system in our house. No sooner was the system installed than I was wondering if we had taken advantage of all of the latest and greatest capabilities.

Recognition for new innovations

Anyway, back to the executive at my client. As I sat down in his office I saw a large glass display with what looked like a red shiny “Transformer” toy inside the case. You may know these “Transformer” toys if you have children as they look like a robot and then transform into cars or planes. With red being one of my favorite colors, I quickly asked what the big red transformer figure in the case was about. A wide smile came across his face as he mentioned that it was recognition for the new innovations that he and his team had developed to “turn-around” the business. He then described how they had questioned the current pricing models, product offerings and partnering models with the large key accounts that they supported. They were also looking at their current customers differently, determining whether there were accounts that could be future stars with growth potential? They questioned if they could and should engage differently with their strategic accounts to drive co-innovation and foster greater partnerships with their key accounts.

Turnaround of the business

The result was a complete turnaround of the business, driven by asking what is possible, what could be done differently and driving the change through a culture of curiosity. As I left his office, I looked across the room and saw the transformer and asked where it came from. He said “My team earned it by driving a transformation in the business through innovations in our business model and innovations in our customer engagement. The CEO provided the award to my team for being transformers!” Now, that is recognizing innovators in an organization! But more importantly, it is a real example of creating a culture of curiosity to drive innovation in an organization. And the best part of all? That particular business started to grow again after a number of years of continuous decline. So I ask you again: Are you identifying, promoting, compensating and most importantly recognizing your innovators? You should be!

The culture you get is in the:

Written by: Charlie Thackston | Creating a Culture of Curiosity Essential #3: Recognition You Give

For more on this topic and other areas of SOAR thought leadership:

Recognition You Give | Essential 3 for Creating a Culture of Curiosity