Does Your Culture Promote Or Prevent Inventive Thinking?
What The Leaders Of Great Countries
And Companies Know About The
Do you think your company culture is more like Israel, America or North Korea? More important, are your teammates willing to say what they really think is the answer to that question, or are they afraid of being sent off to the gulag?
I have some close entrepreneurial friends who visit Israel a couple of times a year. It strikes me that each and every time they return, they are more and more excited about the enormous business opportunities for young start-up companies over there.
Small wonder that The Economist notes that Israel, a country with virtually no natural resources and a population smaller than New York City, has more high-tech start-ups and a larger venture capital industry per capita than any other country in the world. It is indeed the Start-up Nation.
Here’s the simple truth about being inventive: You simply cannot unbundle culture and its effect on the entrepreneurial spirit.
Countries and companies have a lot in common when it comes to creating what’s next for the world. I’ve worked with firms like P&G and GE that are investing heavily in education, consumer insight and creating agile, fearless workforces. I’ve also worked for associations and regulated companies that spend so much time worrying about what “The Supreme Leader” will say and what failure will do to their reputation and careers that they completely forget about the customer.
Predictably, a revolution ensues and their company or organization is overthrown—by factions within the company if they are lucky, and by the competition if they are not.
So why are some companies and countries so entrepreneurial? The GE Global Innovation Barometer (created in conjunction with Edelman Berland’s StrategyOne) points to factors like government policy, technology development and market insights. I agree and would like to add that wherever I see consistent intrapraneurship, there is a confluence of three critical factors: money, empathy and culture that we’ve talked about in the past.
I’d like to add one more: Agility. You may have noticed that the world is changing faster and faster. As this happens, entrepreneurs and companies with an entrepreneurial culture have a competitive advantage that is almost unbeatable.
And this brings us back to the question we began with. If they were being truly honest, how would your employees describe your culture? Would they say it is like Israel, America or North Korea?
Article originally published October 8, 2013, on Forbes.com