Thursday, July 19, 2007

Innovation and Culture

Whilst talking to many people about innovation there is one question that they all ask. 'Do you have experience of of working in my industry sector?'. Quite often the answer is is 'no' and the conversation ends there as many people are risk averse. I have always maintained that the good innovation models (mine included of course!) can be used in any industry and any country.

The drivers for innovation, the support processes that need to be put in place and any other strategic concept are all transferable. What is not always transferable is the local detail e.g. how do you manage knowledge locally, impart ideas to those from a different culture or even run training courses. I always maintain that the greatest experts in any industry are the company themselves. They have the knowledge, they need a model. Why pay huge fees to buy often contradictory advice from a company or consultant that claims to have industry specific knowledge.

So buy my model please, it works! But what are the most common local differences you ask? Here is a short and definitely not a definitive list:

  • Time - Arab cultures have a very different model of time whilst many Latin American, Mediterranean and Far Eastern cultures are less precise than in the UK.
  • Risk - the same cultures who are less precise may also tend to be less risk averse and more playful.
  • Ideas - some cultures readily adopt well formed ideas and in some you will need to plant seeds and let them grow.
  • Business etiquette - no matter how creative you are, certain norms will need to be followed, not because they are part of business but because they are social and in many cultures business/social boundaries are blurred.
  • Groups - there are varying expectations as to how groups or teams form, what their purposes are and what is expected by/from them.

The list is not exhaustive and is based on my dealings with other cultures in the fields of creativity and innovation only. For in depth advice please consult an expert in your chosen culture.

1 comment:

Linda Jane McLean said...

Interesting, Derek.
I like your concise way of putting it. As I struggle with my model, and getting the necessary funding, I will remeber what you say.
Linda McLean