Enrico Gentili is an Associated Director and Master Technology Architect with Accenture. He has more than 20 years of experience in medium to large scale project delivery and IT consulting for a wide set of Accenture's clients. Enrico has been one of the founders of the Accenture Global Innovation Center in Dublin where he established the Engineering team that he served as Director from the initial set-up till 2018. Since 2020 he is an active member of the Global Corporate Citizen Technology Advisory Group.
Associate Director and Master Technology Architect
How important is culture for corporate innovation?
Simply put, there is no corporate innovation without a well-established innovation culture. Innovating is a revolutionary act - it’s all about breaking the rules, going against them, taking calculated risks, and pushing the boundaries of the norm to define a new norm. You can’t innovate if you follow the known, safe paths that somebody else laid down before you.
Accepting this definition and acting accordingly can be very difficult in corporations where success is often based on very well-defined, repeatable processes, strong management infrastructures, rigid reporting lines, along with KPIs and rules that are risk-averse and focus on short-term growth.
The traditional command-and-control management approach works extremely well in situations where the expected outcome is well known and where the focus is on predictability. However, I don’t believe it is suitable in contexts where innovation is the expected outcome. To be-come more innovative, companies must move from control to empowerment. This move is not easy – as it requires a drastic cultural shift. In fact, cultural change is where most corporations fail in their innovation transformation journeys.
To adopt this special culture, corporations should accept the fact that innovation doesn’t follow the rules of hierarchy, seniority, or even specific skillsets. Everyone, at every level, can innovate if given the space and the tools to do it. You need to accept the fact that the next big idea could be brought to the table (or to life) by the most junior per-son in the team. Acknowledging this leads to the next point: how can we build an environment where everyone’s idea is valued and nurtured? This is where an enterprise innovation culture becomes key. It’s like preparing the best soil for growing plants in your garden. You need to supply all the right nutriments, protect the sprouts, remove those weeds that just deplete the soil, create space for the sun to bathe your crops. You need to recognise and facilitate those interactions between people with different skills to allow cross-pollination and mutual enrichment for the greater good of the entire team and the entire corporation [ ... ]
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