How Leaders can encourage an innovative Work Culture amidst Digital Disruption?

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Andy Raymond.



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In an era of digital disruption fuelled by technology such as artificial intelligence, VR, and cloud computing is forcing businesses to rethink the way they design products, satisfy customers, and generate revenue. Only those who embrace the change will stay on top of innovation and development of world-beating technology. Leaders play a pivotal role in encouraging and creating an innovative work culture to navigate the challenges and opportunities posed by this technology revolution. But how can a business prepare its employees with strategies to weather and conquer digital disruption?

What is Digital disruption?

Digital disruption is a change caused by emerging technologies and business models that affect the fundamental expectations and behaviours in a culture, market, industry, or process. It has now become much more than an abstract concept promoted by analysts and vendors; it has become a reality for most organisations and rather than being a random event beyond business leaders’ control, disruption has become a pattern that can be identified, understood, and prepared for. More than 19% of executives and leaders in a recent Forbes survey said they are being directly affected by competition from digital and data-savvy players in their markets.

Disruption is a driving force for business, and a ‘shake up’ can lead to impressive ideas and huge steps forward. According to a recent report by Accenture, 63% of companies are currently experiencing disruption, and 44% are likely to do so in the future. There can be many benefits for businesses that embrace disruption and according to research by Forbes, 83% of executives who consider their organisations to be disruptors have experienced increased revenue. Plus, 72% of companies that encourage transformation report a higher level of customer satisfaction, resulting from disruption. This is where innovation comes in. 

If a business leader wants to encourage their team to embrace unique ways of doing things and wants employees to think outside of the box, they will need to create an innovative work culture. This means saying goodbye to what’s deemed ‘normal’ in the industry and trying new things. Instead of simply asking employees to do their job, encourage them to provide value in other ways. Innovative work culture is important because it’s a way for employees to express ideas and behaviours. Though it might be tempting to take the easier route - one that’s based on predictability and a straightforward workplace - this could hinder growth, whereas an innovative work culture encourages it. 

How to Create an Innovative Work Culture?

Research by McKinsey shows that 94% of senior executives believe people and corporate culture are the most important drivers of innovation, which is why a leader’s focus should be on their team. Below, we have listed some ways of creating an innovative work culture.

  • Encourage Unique Ideas - To create an innovative workplace, a leader needs to encourage new ideas amongst employees. Not only does this help employees to feel valued due to the positive impact they’re having on the company, but it’s a great way to hear a range of ideas, even those that are somewhat unconventional and different. Today, many disruptive technologies chart new and untested territory, from drone at-home deliveries to virtual mechanical repairs. As a result, organisations should also nurture a culture that supports rapid response times, constant innovation and quick course corrections.
  • Make it Okay to Fail - Failing is a part of taking chances and employees should feel as though they are in a safe space should their idea not work out. So, managers should remind the team that failure is likely, and that’s okay. There is always a degree of uncertainty with innovation but if they don’t try, they won’t succeed. It is essential to ensure everyone knows to put innovative ideas into action, even if they might fail. The goal isn't to get it right the first time but to move quickly and to give as many influential employees a positive experience of innovation as possible, even if a project doesn't generate profits immediately. 
  • Encourage Competition - There is nothing wrong with healthy competition amongst employees, and it could encourage them to come up with bigger and better ideas. It’s a good way of getting employees well-versed in pitching ideas to management, and it could boost their confidence in their own innovative ideas. Though winning is a reward, so is developing skills and getting to know the pitching process.
  • Don’t Shy Away from Executing Ideas - A key part of developing an innovative work culture is to execute ideas, even if they are new and different. To do this the company needs to give employees a morale boost, and provide them with everything needed to put the plan into action. This could be an additional budget, tools or training. With emerging technologies permeating the workplace, organisations are increasingly relying on project managers to advocate for technology, motivate their teams to implement new solutions, supervise course corrections, and become an authority on disruptive technology.
  • Have a Positive Attitude - It’s easier for employees to embrace innovation and overcome challenges if the business has a positive attitude towards it. It’s natural for them to be hesitant and pessimistic about an innovative idea, but this could hold the company back. It shows that the top tier doesn’t have confidence in the idea and they aren’t sure if the team can execute it correctly. Having a positive attitude through the trial and error that comes with innovation keeps everyone’s spirits high.

A lot of business owners stick to what they know and avoid taking risks, but this is unlikely to result in success and growth ahead of competitor businesses. Disruptive technologies from today’s market call for drastic change. Fortunately, by discovering new ways of working, new roles, and a newfound confidence in disruptive ideas, organisations can manage the growing impact of these technologies while fuelling innovation. Innovation is all about doing things differently, taking risks, and creating a company that stands out as being one of a kind. Organisations leading the way and digitally disrupting their markets have learned to employ customer data in new and innovative ways not simply to be disruptors, but to provide superior customer experiences. Surviving and thriving in today’s digital economy demands no less.

Redline Executive’s mission is to enable high-technology companies to meet their strategic goals, in our search for leaders who will flourish in a time of exceptional digital change. With four decades of experience, we’ve created trusted partnerships with our clients and candidates, and pride ourselves on being industry experts. Contact us at +44 (0)1582 450054 or drop us an email at info@RedlineGroup.com 

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