What does building a culture of innovation mean anyway?

by Claire Eldridge . October 2021

While we were away as a company last week, enjoying being together again and investing in our culture, we were recognised for the importance we place on our people by an esteemed group of judges from the Business Culture Awards. We beat off some tough competition to win the Building a Culture of Innovation Initiative. It was a strong entry, with clear measurable outcomes for our business, but what exactly does it mean?

Culture and Innovation are two overused business buzz words. I want to share what they mean to us.

First culture. This is not something we believe can just be created or improved with wellbeing measures, a values revamp, or cool social activities. Culture comes from the top. In our case, it is aligned to the values that Neil and I have always held dear since we started Aurora 16 years ago. Principles and behaviours that we expect everyone on the team to feel the same way about. Things like not putting yourself before the team, doing what you say you’ll do, thinking bigger for clients, and coming wholeheartedly to work are what shape our culture. People are recognised for these behaviours by colleagues as they live them every day, and part of the culture of innovation we were recognised for was also letting people know when they weren’t being culture aligned. Of course, it is easier for the culture to come from the top when the business is owner led and managed. Far trickier when the ones that ‘set’ the desired culture for the business are not leading it.

Innovation. The best definition I have ever heard is from the great Dave Hall from the Ideas Centre who says that for something to be innovative it must be both novel and useful. Such a clear and simple description. It certainly applies to this award win, where the programme we put in place in March last year has proven to be both. New ways of working have improved business outcomes, even when we were unable to be together in person. We put our people first, and it has paid back in bucket loads, with improved creativity, autonomy and decision making.

Everyone embraced the changes as well as the intention behind them, which contributed to the success. But we still have a way to go. Continuous improvement is also part of our culture, so we are not going to stop here. Culture and innovation will fuel and inspire the next phase of growth for our group of businesses. We couldn’t have got to this point without the help of Corporate Punk working as partners through this journey. It is their Culture Index that set the course and measured its success, and their unfailing desire, like ours, to get it right for the people that won this prize.

If you’d like to talk to us about creating a company culture of innovation or want to experience our culture first-hand then get in touch.