19 June 2017

Growing an Innovative Culture

Published on 19 June 2017
By Michelle Mahoney

Ah culture - that elusive ingredient that promises to hold the keys to an organisation’s success. If we could just get our culture right, you say, then we could all be more innovative.

The good news is there are some very practical things you can do to help build an innovative culture at your organisation:

How safe is it to try out new things in your organisation? Things which may or may not work out – and if that’s the case is that OK? Or do people fear what will happen if they make a mistake? Are you providing your people with a safe environment to experiment and create? If not, you need to because otherwise you will kill any chance of creativity. You cannot expect your people to be bold and fearless when the environment they work in makes them fearful.

How engaged are your people? In essence, an innovative culture is an engaged culture. Do you know what your employee engagement baseline is? Are you doing regular temperature checks? Are your people relatively happy? Do you know what their drivers for happiness are? Do you know what motivates them?  If not, you need to make it a priority to find out and go from there.

Are you encouraging your people to not just identify problems but to also think about how they can best be solved - and then become part of that process? Are you giving your people an opportunity to have a voice? And if so are you not only listening but acting upon it?

What about training? Innovation is not a linear process. It’s messy and bumpy and your people may not feel very comfortable with that. After all haven’t we all been trained (and rewarded) for thinking on our feet - coming up with an answer – even if hasn’t been validated? To encourage your people to think differently and work differently you need to give them the tools to equip them to do that.

Sometimes you just need to go outside: outside your organisation, outside your industry and outside your comfort zone to get some inspiration and bring back some fresh thinking.

If innovation is of fundamental importance to you and your organisation, then it’s also important to focus on creating a suitable environment to enable your people to try, learn and thrive.

Until next time,



About the Author 


Michelle is a serial intrapreneur. She has had a career which has featured: first to market initiatives; wrangling data; maximising technology; business transformation; and innovation.  Her passion for change that adds value, drives her personal and professional life.  Michelle currently is the Executive Director of Innovation and is responsible for the design and delivery of the innovation strategy and portfolio for King & Wood Mallesons.  Michelle has held previous roles in consulting, strategy and management.  She is a Prince 2 project manager, a Prosci Change Management practitioner, d.school Design Thinker and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. Michelle is a member of King & Wood Mallesons' Executive Leadership team and is a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. Michelle juggles an active career with her husband and their two gorgeous boys.