By Victor Assad, Managing Partner of InnovatonOne, LLC.

Organizations are resorting to relentless cost-cutting and lean sigma during these volatile times. Their goal is to improve their operations, but they’re doing it in a way that alienates employees.

Instead, organizations can achieve breakthrough productivity, innovation, and profits by better aligning their employees to the organization’s mission and strategies. Even the implementation of artificial intelligence is more effective with an employee-centric approach.

Ultimately, you can’t cut your way to growth. It always takes some investment —even after a restructuring. Companies work best when the people with the answers — your middle management, employees, and external ecosystem — are involved in generating ideas, experimenting with the ideas, and commercializing the best solutions.

This requires improving your organization’s culture.

Research from InnovationOne, LLC, and others shows that organizations with an agile culture are more productive, innovative, and profitable. They can implement business strategies quickly, are collaborative, promote organizational learning and invest in innovation These organizations, like others, do need to restructure from time to time due to business cycle downturns or to divest from older products and services to new ones, but with their agile cultures they are more successful with restructuring than companies with toxic cultures.

How do organizations improve their cultures of innovation to have this agility?

Here are six strategies organizations should follow to improve their cultures of innovation. They are based on years of research published in academic journals.

# 1. Executives develop tangible innovation goals that are communicated across the organization to the point where the vast majority of employees understand how they can contribute to innovation.

# 2. There is a well-known and quickly responsive knowledge management process that employees can use to submit ideas, get feedback from management, and prototype their ideas with others.

# 3. The organization has an effective environment for communication within and across divisions with key experts in the organization’s external eco-system. Tied with this is the cultural expectation that employees and experts will share their expertise.

# 4. Employees trust their managers and teammates and believe that they are empowered to ask questions and be creative for the benefit of the organization.

# 5. Employees believe they will be given the resources (financial and non-financial), time, and space to pursue innovation.

# 6. The performance management system clearly encourages and incentivizes innovation.

Many executives we speak to resist working on their cultures for the following stated reasons (with our responses directly following):

  • “Culture is too negative. It uncovers our weak points.” Our answer is yes, our assessment of an organization’s culture will expose your weaknesses. You must first understand your weaknesses to improve them. We also uncover the organization’s cultural strengths and point out ways to improve your strengths.
  • “Culture is too mushy to manage.” Our response is leaders can manage what they can measure. Culture can be measured and managed at the organizational, departmental, and team levels.
  • “Innovation is too uncertain and can’t be measured or controlled. Besides, 70 percent of them fail anyhow.” Our answer is innovation is very measurable and you can measure innovation projects along the way to make sure they are achieving the necessary breakthroughs and stay on budget. In this way, you can discontinue projects that won’t be successful and redirect those funds to projects that will be successful.
  • “It takes too long.” Our answer is that after one of our assessments, you can begin implementing changes the next month and quarter and see quick improvement.

Improving your organizational culture is measurable and manageable. It will improve your productivity, innovation, and profitability.

Let us help you get started. Learn more at or contact me at

About InnovationOne®, LLC.

InnovationOne®, LLC helps organizations worldwide build a culture of innovation and make it sustainable. InnovationOne® uses a scientifically developed assessment to measure, benchmark, and improve your company’s culture and capability to innovate and enjoy better outcomes and financial results. We have conducted research with The Conference Board and the US Department of Energy. Companies scoring in the top quartile of our InnovationOne Culture Index© reported higher financial performance than bottom quartile performers by as much as 22 percent. US Department of Energy labs scoring high on our assessment can have up to 3x higher performance over the lower scoring labs. Measure and ignite your culture of innovation.