Can technology build an innovative culture?

Every organisation has one mantra which seems to ring true – that we all need to “innovate or die”. So what’s so special about how Dennis has used technology to maximise innovation and build an innovative culture? On the penultimate day of Innovation Week, we heard from James Tye, CEO and Paul Lomax, Chief Technology Officer at Dennis Publishing

James Tye, CEO at Dennis, believes that technology at work should be better than what we have at home. He believes that the environment is a part of the issue and that it should empower the workforce and, as a result, their working practices. Most importantly, he believes that innovation is driven by conversation.

The main problem with technology is the creation of a filter bubble where instead of a balanced diet of information you can end up with information junk food. We need technologies that, rather than limit us, introduce us to new ideas, new people and new perspectives.

Dennis introduced the email provider Slack, a work messaging system that allows anyone within your organisation to join and contribute to any conversation, thereby promoting total transparency and collaboration.

I do agree with James that innovation is driven by quality conversation and that by using new technological tools such as Slack we are combating the filter bubble, opening up to wider groups and therefore maximising the quality (at the risk of quantity) of those conversations, ideas, aids, approaches and solutions.

According to James, they have noticed that projects work faster, they are more streamlined and that trust is created among teammates; all of which in my opinion should maximise drive and passion – key factors in creating and encouraging a culture of innovation.

Back to the topic at hand. Can technology build an innovative culture? Here are some top tips to build an innovative culture through technology:

  • New technologies need to be led from the top down. James spoke of a time that he sent an important company update via Slack rather than email
  • Have realistic adoption goals. Only aim at the Innovators to Late Adopters within the business rather than focus on the Laggers
  • Create a sense of  #FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • Use IT to empower rather than restrict employees
  • Shadow IT.  Follow the crowd. If people are using WhatsApp rather than emails, empower that form of communication. There’s nothing wrong with an emoji – it can save valuable minutes of typing when sending emails and or messages
  • You need to listen to yourself. If new technology is improving innovation in MY working environment, then it’s probably going to filter down.

Although on the surface we seemed to be talking about the advantages of Slack predominantly, the overarching debates seemed to be between:

  • Open Conversations vs Individual Focus
  • Flat hierarchy vs High hierarchy
  • Change vs Familiar
  • Sexy and Stressful vs Safe and Stable
  • Being Empowered by Technology vs Being Overpowered by Technology
  • Innovation vs Efficiency

And even more simply, to summarise:

Innovation is driven by quality conversation. Leverage technology that encourages quality conversations and always strive for Efficient Innovation.

Would you agree?


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