Innovation is the purpose, not a cultural element!

(Originally posted on my linked on Aug 5, 2017 )

Yesterday attended a brilliant session ‘Building leadership, organization culture and capabilities for innovation’ at #PLF2017HYD . Thank you all the good folks at Product Leadership Forum for a worthy day!

Wonder if “innovation” is a characteristic of an organization’s culture. Don’t know why we started to say this. Guess, it is around 2007/2008 that the whole of Indian IT industry woke up and decided to build this “organizational culture to innovate”.    By this date 2007/2008,  Indian IT & ITES market size was 70+ billion USD. In 2016 it grew up to 150+ billion USD.*

An industry that is making 70+ billion dollars and whose primary work force is ‘engineers’ accumulated all this worth without innovation?  Something is not adding up right!

I think innovation is never an issue. And it is never part of any “culture”. Innovation is THE PURPOSE. That has been and has to be the reason why IT industry exists and thrives.

Agreed, there is a shift around 2007/2008 and industry had to pivot.  But please, that is not to ‘start innovating’.   Change was in deciding to innovate ‘what’ instead of ‘how’.  Until then the focus was on processes to solve someone else’s problem. Change was to identify and solve problems on its own.  That was the shift.

Looking back, probably even I am guilty of thinking and phrasing Innovation being part of an organization culture.  At some point I personally was driving one such initiative to train entire engineering department to identify ideas and experiment. That is training the workforce to do their job. I don’t want to call it a culture shift.

We got to make innovation as the purpose and reason why we get up in the morning and go to work.   Leave dress code, open/closed door policies, flat/hierarchical departments,  alcohol/no-alcohol etc., to organizational culture.

* Source : https://www.ibef.org/industry/information-technology-india.aspx

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