When it comes to innovation we often hear leaders and employees say things like: “We need to ‘create’ a culture of innovation!” — or — “Our problems lie within our culture — we have to change it.” Yet having witnessed and accompanied organizational culture change both in academia and real life, we’ve grown tired of putting the term in the foreground (if you are interested in its different nuances, models and definitions, we can recommend: .
In our experience, change or transformation programs that make culture the object of intervention for behavior change either don’t work very well or not at all. Culture is merely an outcome, the shadow of a system if you will. We believe that behaviors, shared customs, and beliefs in an organization are guided and influenced by its systems and structures So, instead of trying to change people, it is more sustainable to change the operating system in which they act. Event-based standard interventions such as motivational speeches, pieces of training, workshops, design sprints, and hackathons therefore fall short of the mark, or worse still get perceived as innovation theater, as the new behaviors can’t be absorbed by the system. Safi Bahcall very beautifully said: “Structure eats culture for breakfast” . We couldn’t agree more.