CultureLeadership

‘Innovation Culture’ is not the Holy Grail

posted by Ravi Arora January 13, 2017

In the previous post I discussed about ‘culture’ and how one can go about creating or building or shaping it. That post evoked two types of responses from readers. (1) They asked me if there is some other way to convince them that culture can be shaped and reshaped by following process(es).  (2) Many asked for a few examples of processes that could help in building or shaping the innovation culture. In this post I am attempting to respond to the first part.

Let me start by asking you to think about the following phrases. We would have come across all these phrases but wouldn’t have deciphered the use and meaning of the word ‘cultured’.

  • Cultured pearl
  • Cultured yeast
  • Cultured blood test and cultured urine test
Cultured Pearl

A natural pearl is formed by accident when the animal is injured by a parasite or an attack of a fish that damages the external fragile rim of the shell of the animal. In response, as a healing process the animal secretes nacre and a cyst is formed, which is nothing but a pearl. Cultured pearl is a process to grow pearls by inserting a tissue graft from a donor oyster, upon which a pearl sac forms and the inner side precipitates nacre.

Cultured Yeast

Cultured yeasts are yeast strains cultured and optimised for certain uses. They only consist of one strain of yeast and do not contain mould, bacteria or other yeasts. On the other hand, natural yeasts usually consist of a mixture of different yeast strains and every strain has its own characteristics and effects foods in different ways. When natural yeasts are used in food production it is unknown which strain will reproduce fastest and what the effect on the food will be. Quality, smell and taste of the finished product may vary and are basically left to chance. Cultured yeasts are supposed to change a food positively in a predictable manner and hence are used in professional food production.

Cultured blood test and cultured urine test

Urine and blood are sterile environments and the infection due to presence of bacteria is difficult to detect. Blood and urine culture tests are nothing but a process of growing bacteria (and other germs) in the blood or urine in a controlled environment (laboratory) in an accelerated manner to test the presence of an infection or bacteria 0l1tdqq.

From the above examples, what do you think is the meaning of ‘cultured’? It means:

  • Refined (as in yeast) by following a process
  • Artificially nurtured or grown (as in pearl) by following a process
  • Cultivated; tilled (as in pathological tests or pearl) by following a process

Cultured culture

With the above understanding, what do you think will be the meaning of ‘Cultured culture’? Just like someone in the 20th century discovered that pearl could be cultured, we need to come to grips with the fact that culture too can be cultured. The simple meaning of ‘cultured culture’ would be – Refined/nurtured/cultivated culture by following a process.

Similarity between ‘Cell culture’ and ‘Innovation culture’

Now that we agree that the culture can be created or shaped, let us come quickly to innovation culture which is the key topic. I have almost reproduced the Wikipedia entry for ‘Cell culture’ below, which I request everyone to read it carefully.

Cell culture is the process by which cells are grown under controlled conditions, generally outside of their natural environment. Cell culture conditions can vary for each cell type, but artificial environments consist of a suitable vessel with substrate or medium that supplies the essential nutrients (amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals), growth factors, hormones, and gases (CO2, O2), and regulates the physio-chemical environment (pH buffer, osmotic pressure, temperature). Most cells require a surface or an artificial substrate whereas others can be grown free floating in culture medium.

If we were to create a Wikipedia entry for ‘Innovation Culture’ by replacing the word ‘cell’ by ‘innovation’ in the above and making a few slight modifications, it would read as:

Innovation culture is the process by which innovations are grown under controlled conditions, generally outside of their natural environment (natural environment here means the environment of an established organisation). Innovation culture conditions can vary for each innovation type (disruptive, radical or incremental), but artificial environments consist of a suitable organisation structure with leader that supplies the essential nutrients (knowledge, resources, perseverance, energy) and regulates the physio-chemical environment (agility, teamwork and forgiveness). Most Innovations require a separate structure whereas others can be grown freely in existing structure.

The above sounds very similar to our desire of having an ‘innovation culture’, which we all unfortunately feel is the Holy Grail for innovation in organisations!

Cultured ‘Innovation culture’

The final question – Having understood the meaning of ‘cultured’ and ‘innovation culture’ let us put together the meaning of ‘cultured innovation culture’ – Refined/nurtured/cultivated process of controlled conditions by which innovations are grown or are given accelerated growth.

 

References:

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/cultured

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/cultured

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_culture

http://en.foodlexicon.org/r0001230.php

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultured_pearl

http://wikidiff.com/culture/cultured

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_culture

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/urine-culture#1