What are some key cultural factors that inhibit entrepreneurship and innovation?

By: Bill Van Eron Thursday August 30, 2018 0 comments Tags: Bill Van Eron

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By Bill Van Eron

Conscious Market Strategist

Headwaters Marketing & Innovation

The tie between an organization’s culture and entrepreneurship (including innovation) is like the tie between breathing clean air and living.

We may understand how we got here if we simply look at the history of work, hierarchical organizations, an increased degree of repetitive work, and how long best practices go unchallenged.

Contrast that with patterns one can observe in winners and it is quite revealing.

To first address this question -- how culture inhibits entrepreneurship and innovation -- here are a few of the inhibiting factors:

  1. The exponential rate of change has turned traditional organizational structures upside down and inside out, yet many orgs still hold on to false walls and structures, outdated processes, and more leaders who resist change despite admiring early adopters. A true fix starts with conscious realization.
  2. Many leaders fear the word transformation, perceiving it to be negatively disruptive, slow, expensive and low impact. While these fears need to be factored into a true solution that is agile, cost-effective and high-impact and engineered for human adoption -- our solution and hopefully others -- makes it an inspirationally, near contagious, open human process as it should be.
  3. If you look at the last 5 years’ CEO top 10 priority lists, crucial needs get identified yet not resolved. They fall off the list as new items arise. For decades innovation was No. 1, yet large corporations suffer very low innovation rates and are largely viewed as risk-averse orgs.
  4. I see ample evidence that most organizations fail because they inadvertently become closed, internally focused cultures. Gallup states that only 15% of all global employees care to make a difference. At least 77% feel emotionally disconnected from work so they do not challenge the status quo or even embrace learning. Many take a victim approach and fail to champion change as they fear losing their jobs.

The list of negative impacts that affect a culture is growing as some leaders fear their own inadequacies -- so trust, credibility and relevance decline. We also see huge disparities between leader compensation (high) and those that do the work (low), with respect to the need for greater recognition and shared success.

So fair to say, the biggest factors affecting a “can do” entrepreneurial spirit are human enablement, objectivity and an open culture.

In order to embrace the human factors driving change, leaders have to accept their vulnerabilities instead of hiding or avoiding what is now increasingly apparent to all.

I see and will help a new age of positive conscious accountability to envelop organizational design. I see firsthand -- from decades of doing this work -- the cohesive strengths a Chief Ecosystem Value Strategist and a Conscious Designer will add to the C-Suite Strategic Planning Table.

At the end of the day, a few factors matter the most:

  1. Conscious attention to a pattern where employees abhor jobs defined by routines, time pressures and the real threat that replacement by robots can likely eliminate many jobs soon. Younger gens expect a company to have a purpose and inspire/embrace new thinking. Organizations have to change their mindset and structure, enablement system and growth will follow. Perfect logic for a better solution.
  2. Given how markets have total transparency to how genuine a company is to promises made to customers and to employees -- those that fall short fail fast -- it stands to reason that companies suffer when they do not have that transparency themselves. I support a new age of conscious accountability as vital in all businesses, institutions and government. I am sure I am not alone.
  3. The most amazing factor is how leaders and employees inside a closed internal org fail to see it or believe it when told by objective, outside-in counsel. My team will provide that as the impact we have had when leadership embraces outside-in objectivity, has proven to be the primary success compass for even Fortune 50 companies.
Bill Van Eron

About the Author: Bill Van Eron

Bill Van Eron, founder of Headwaters Marketing & Innovation, has an extensive design-rooted career that naturally evolved to a still rare, yet high-impact conscious design mindset that finds and transfers greater value to actions across business, life and community. These skills & systems thinking come to life when we immerse in a range of customer-facing and influencer-facing environments. Far greater possibilities are clarified to the benefit of leadership, vision innovation, inclusion, trust and relevance. As always, I focus my time on enabling others to achieve greater success across realms most businesses miss, yet profit by. Not about me, about an enabled we. Let’s start the dialog (970 221-0751, https://www.linkedin.com/in/bill-van-eron/  [email protected]).