Evans Incorporated

Building and Maintaining a Culture of Innovation

By Nicole Morrow and Omoefe Abugo

Establishing a lasting organizational culture of innovation takes time, dedication and encouragement. During a recent staff meeting, our very own Bob Etris made a statement that resonated with me. Etris said that reaching our desired state requires “creativity, patience and having a view of the long road ahead.”

Just as Rome was not built in a day, cultures of innovation are not established overnight. It is something all members of an organization must be committed to. It is a desired state that will come into fruition when all members feel empowered to contribute meaningful, positive ideas and actions to the organization’s mission.

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Foster inclusiveness

Organizations must include all members to spark collective confidence. They must spark collective confidence to bring about repeated meaningful change. They must bring about repeated meaningful change to establish a culture of innovation.

Through our organization-wide training program, Evans University, we work to provide all staff members with a full package of tailored and agile training opportunities to meet their unique needs, and prepare them to handle all challenges or opportunities that may arise. Through out Discovering Individuals Styles of Communication training, staff members become more self-aware and continue to seek new, effective communication techniques based on their distinct traits. Our Strengths Finder Assessment has been a hit in the office. Through this assessment, staff members learn their five core strengths and are then provided guidance on how to develop, promote and use those strengths in the workplace and with our clients.

The Evans University stands as an invaluable tool in ensuring all members of the Evans Family reach their full potential every day.

Design is everything. It is all aroundEncourage failure

Freedom to fail is the freedom to flourish. We learn from our successes, but we often times learn the most valuable lessons from our failures. Disappointment hurts, but it is crucial to not dwell on the negative aspects of our mistakes. If harnessed, our failures can act as springboards for growth and advancement.

When employees do not fear failure, they act boldly and creatively. We saw this at Evans during The Challenge, an internal competition rooted in building relationships, sparking creativity and rewarding innovation through social media engagement and online content building. The competition did not focus on a right way to participate. It encouraged staff members to channel their creativity toward an organizational cause. We did not fear failure or missing the mark. Instead, we boldly sought out new channels to express our individual and collective expertise.

Celebrate success

We learn from our failures. We analyze. We adapt. We grow. Our collective and individual growth leads to the pivotal successes all organizations desire. As we continue to make breakthroughs and experience success, it is important to recognize the individuals who led the initiatives, braved the elements and saw to it that the race was won.

Our very own Iliana Alvarado outlined the importance of celebrating the successes of individuals in an organization. “By understanding what drives each person—and celebrating these drivers – I am able to discover their unique talents, skills, and interests,” Alvarado said. “This allows me to align them with the right role on our engagement and keeps them motivated to be successful.”

Nurture creativity

Creativity has no bounds. Organizations must realize this, and work to foster environments that nurture and encourage creative solutions to complex problems. Organizational leaders can accomplish this in various ways. Providing a workspace optimized for ingenuity plays a major part in the collective creativity of any company. Evans’ open concept office enables employees to easily collaborate with each other and explore various solution channels. When it’s time to hunker down and get the juices flowing, our staff members migrate to our closed-off meeting rooms.

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Workplace environments should never inhibit creativity. Instead, the environment should nurture ingenuity and innovation. However, we must know when to rest, refuel and return to work recharged. Working to our highest creative potential involves constant renewal. Spending time away from work not thinking about tomorrow’s tasks allows us to come to the workplace with fresh perspectives we can use to tackle the day’s undertakings.

In a recent TED Talk, Harvard University professor Linda Hill reminded us of the power of creativity. To spark meaningful innovation, “you have to unleash the talents and passions of many people, and you have to harness them into a work that is actually useful,” said Hill. Unleashed creativity creates innovative solutions. More importantly, unleashed creativity spurs a collective organizational confidence.

Emphasize design

Design is everything. It is all around us. It shapes the way we see the world. When working with clients, it is important to design with the client’s end in mind. One of the major tenants of Design Thinking is implementing human-centered problem solving. All innovative solutions must be tailored around the needs the client. This enables you to understand your clients, recognize their strengths and weaknesses, and build a solution that meets them at their needs.

The call for innovation is tremendous, but it is not something that can be developed at one’s convenience. We must focus on what is important, prioritize our goals and focus on delivering products and services of exceptional value. Most importantly, we must realize that it is a team effort. Once everyone is on board, an organization can move confidently toward its desired state.

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