For large enterprises, remaining stuck in their traditional processes and mindsets is a sure-fire way to let innovative start-ups eat into market share. It’s happening with incumbent telcos as over the top (OTT) providers like Skype and Whatsapp take over; it’s happening to taxi companies as Uber and Lyft disrupt the market; it’s happening to big pharma as tech companies and sports apparel brands take charge of the digital health ecosystem; and it can happen to you too.

If you liked this article, listen to guests Scott Harper, Dialexa’s co-founder and CEO, and Chris Garrick, Sr Partner here at Dialexa, on Custom Made, where we discuss how to drive innovation within an enterprise organization:

Listen to all episodes of Custom Made for insights and perspectives from industry disruptors and technology leaders.

The time is now for businesses to shift their focus to innovation—but it can be difficult to make a dramatic change in a large enterprise. With these 5 telling signs of an innovative company in mind, you can start reshaping your organization to better adapt to digitization.

  1. Innovative Culture as the Foundation for Business

In the world of innovative companies, “culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a common theme. You might have multiple avenues to create B2B disruption; but if your culture doesn’t facilitate their development, they won’t take shape.

Setting an innovative culture as your foundation isn’t just about providing a fun atmosphere for employees—it’s about defining your company’s values and aligning those values to your goals (or sometimes even your goals to the values). If you’re anything like us at Dialexa where we value honesty, transparency, integrity, excellence, creative freedom, hunger, resilience and trust, you need to find ways to incorporate your values into your business.

Innovative companies define their business according to core values in everything from meeting structure, to internal communications, to employee feedback, and beyond.

  1. Leadership Buy-In Is a Given

At innovative companies, senior leaders close to the CEO lead innovation practices because they understand both the business and its technology. With both sides in mind, they can properly sell the rest of the management team on innovative ideas and create a top-down focus on innovation that permeates the entire company.

Whether you hire an outside expert or use a company-wide leadership retreat to initiate this top-down approach, you must start innovation practices with leadership buy-in.


  1. Innovative Companies Work Faster

If you’ve been an established player in your industry for years, you probably develop your cash cow product changes on a long-term strategy (6 to 12 months). This kind of drawn-out product roadmap won’t suffice in a market increasingly dominated by innovative players. The innovative companies are driven by agile mindsets.

We’ve said it before, but the “try fast, iterate fast, fail quickly, and stop” motto is an essential part of an innovative company. Even the largest of Fortune 500 organizations such as Coca-Cola and GE are hiring start-up evangelists to help them become more agile. Here are a few keys to strive for as you aim for greater agility:

  •      Increase collaboration
  •      Iterate via rapid prototyping
  •      Create lean cross-functional teams
  •      Understand failure vs. pivoting
  •      Make sure you have the necessary tools for agile innovation
  1. Workspace Reflects Innovation

The days of cubicle farms are over—they don’t facilitate the inspiration and collaboration necessary for innovation. Workspace might not be the first thing you think of when considering innovation, but these design tips can help support the new innovative culture you’re creating:

  •      Plan for an innovation lab
  •      Choose an open floor plan over cubicles
  •      Create places for employees to meet by chance
  •      Incorporate wellness for employees
  •      Reflect your values in the design
  1. Round Pegs Hired for Square Holes

The brightest millennial minds are increasingly choosing the freshness of innovative start-up environments as opposed to giant corporations. To become an innovative company, you must find ways to flip this script.

While innovative companies have the right mindsets, you have resources, finances, infrastructure and brand recognition that start-ups can only dream of in their early stages. Use these advantages as well as a more innovative culture to attract disruptive minds that can facilitate your digital transformation.

We’re Just Scratching the Innovation Surface

While these 5 signs are indicative of an innovative company, they are far from an exhaustive list. There are many more characteristics of an innovative company and a multitude of ways for you to approach your transformation.

If you want a more comprehensive look at the keys to becoming an innovative company, download our new eBook, The Four Ways Companies Innovate & How to Set Up Your Own Innovation Practice.

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