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Ian Dodds Consulting’s (IDC) Monthly Best Practice: December 2017

By Ian Dodds – Lotus Award Winner 2017: Lifetime Achievement for Pioneering Inclusive Cultures

Inclusion is key to building a culture of innovation and creativity

An article on ‘creating a thriving innovation culture’ in the November edition of People Management states that “the essence of an innovative culture is getting employees to find solutions to everyday problems”. The article fails to refer to the key driver of innovation, which is building an inclusive culture. A global technology company, which was a client of mine, had found in their American operation that inclusion was a key driver of innovation. They involved me in helping them successfully build an inclusive culture in their EMEA operation to obtain the innovation gain.

The reason inclusion drives innovation and creativity is because it enables the leveraging of diversity of thought. Moreover, Professor Scott E Page (University of Michigan) has demonstrated this mathematically through the Diversity Trumps Ability Theorem. This proves that a diverse group of people will consistently outperform a bright, homogeneous group in creatively solving a complex problem. There is one proviso for it to work and that is that they have to listen to each other and explore differing ideas, views and opinions. This proviso is best satisfied by building an inclusive culture. The following are the 6 steps I help clients adopt to succeed in bulding an inclusive culture:-

  1. Working with the leadership team to enable them to create a vision of future organisational success in terms of delivering key strategic objectives innovatively and creatively by building an inclusive culture. This is then communicated down the management line to everyone and their feedback is obtained on what will help and hinder the delivery of the vision.

  2. Helping the leadership team use this feedback to construct a strategy for delivering their vision covering quick wins and longer term strategic actions. Once again this is communicated to everyone and each team is asked to determine its contribution to the strategy.

  3. Helping the leadership team set up a Change Steering Group to drive and monitor the implementation of the strategy and ensure blockages to it are addressed.

  4. Enabling the leaders of the organisation to become role model exemplars in the behaviours needed to drive their vision and strategy. In my experience this is best effected by their identifying the behaviours and having feedback and coaching on their practice of them.

  5. Training all of the managers right down to the front line in:

    • listening skills, including: seeking information; checking understanding; acknowledging feelings and positive contributions; summarising; etc;

    • how to empower people;

    • how to give effective feedback and in-the-moment coaching.

  6. Showing the leadership team how to measure progress in changing the culture and address barriers to it and share success stories and the lessons on good practices from them

This is a process that I have used for many years to develop a culture of inclusion throughout an organisation and always with success in terms of delivering inclusion and innovation and creativity. If you want more information on this please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Dr Ian Dodds FRSA, 


29 Nov 2017

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