Organizations that talk about the value of innovation are often, in reality, resistant to change. People also feel fearful of their own job security or reputation if they commit to a new idea that fails. But to succeed at innovation, Moisés Noreña says, companies must build a culture that tolerates and even celebrates a higher degree of risk.
Noreña advises large organizations to create a risk-tolerant culture by propagating and rewarding values like bravery and empathy.
“Don’t put your eggs in one basket,” says Noreña. “Since you know that some things will fail, build a portfolio of products that address different market needs and opportunities. Some will fail but these will increase the likelihood of your company’s success—just like you do with a mutual fund.”
Empathy is essential to innovation, Noreña says. When design firms want to create something new, they employ empathetic design by putting themselves in the body and mind of the end-user.
One approach is to encourage leaders to make empathy loud by recognizing and rewarding employees that demonstrate empathy.
“When the leaders of an organization demonstrate empathy, the teams feel more secure,” says Noreña. “When people in teams feel secure, they are [the] most creative and more willing to take risks.