The culture of your organization can have a profound impact on many aspects of your innovation efforts. Braden Kelley offers a list of questions that you can use to determine how much your corporate culture either supports or hinders innovation.

Braden Kelley, in his new book, Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire: A Roadmap to a Sustainable Culture of Ingenuity and Purpose, points out that the culture of your organization can have a profound impact on:

  • Your ability to innovate
  • How you innovate
  • What types of innovation you choose to focus upon
  • The ability of your organization to meet future threats

“Better understanding the culture of your organization wil lnot only help you innovate more efficiently but also maximize the strengths and compensate for the weaknesses of your organization’s particular culture,” he explains.

To gain a better understanding of your organization’s culture, Kelley recommends that you ask yourself and some key employees who know the tendencies of your organization these key questions:

  • What type of behavior tends to get rewarded in our organization?
  • What qualities in individuals are most valued in our organization?
  • Is who you know or what you know more important in our organization?
  • Is performance on special projects or core job performance most important?
  • Is it OK to fail in our organization?
  • Is failure permitted or possibly even celebrated?
  • Is learning from failure valued and embraced?
  • Is leadership or expertise more valued in our organization?
  • Do people openly share information or hoard it?
  • Do people openly share credit for a job well done or seek it for themselves alone?
  • Do managers hoard budget and resources or do they openly share them with cross-functional teams?
  • Does innovation only happen in the R&D department?
  • Do we have an open, collaborative office environment or a task-focused environment organized into individual offices or high-wall cubicles?
  • Is informal power greater than hierarchical power in our organization?

I think this is a very powerful list of questions that gets to the heart of the cultural issues that tend to derail innovation in many firms. Ask yourself these questions about your employer. Where does your company stand? Probably not as good as it ought to be. There’s lots of food for thought here!