How to cultivate an innovation culture, even in difficult times

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Marie Boran
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Innovation doesn’t have to be dispensed with in an economic downturn and Viviane Martins, CEO of Brazil-based consulting firm Falconi, shows us how to keep it going.

Value creation is “the final objective” of innovation, said Viviane Martins, CEO of Falconi, going on to state that it is what sets innovation apart from invention.

Headquartered in Brazil, Falconi is a management consulting firm operating across 50 different verticals, having worked on more than 6,000 projects in 40 countries. It offers strategic, tactical, and operational consulting services, and comprises 1,200 professionals across four continents.

Viviane talks about fostering an innovation culture, practices that have set up Falconi, the largest business and people management consulting firm in the Latin American region, for success in the boom times and made the company more resilient in the face of economic difficulties.

But how? Viviane focused in on four crucial points business leaders should keep in mind:

Start with the right data architecture

“Without appropriate data architecture, you won’t be able to construct a continuous flow of innovation,” said Viviane, elaborating that an organization’s data architecture should be built to suit its own unique needs and processes.

Encourage a culture of risk-taking

Viviane said risk-taking should be encouraged as innovation doesn’t come from repetition. She also noted that assessing decisions afterward is crucial: “We have to tolerate a certain level of mistakes … and we have to learn from mistakes.”

Acknowledge the crucial role of middle management

When it comes to knowledge development within an organization, middle management is the proverbial oil that greases the wheels.

“Value creation is the final objective of innovation.”

– Viviane Martins, CEO, Falconi

The CEO pointed out their role in sharing knowledge through networking: Fostering collaboration between teams and building a broader ecosystem.

Watch out for the ‘innovation killers’

Sometimes an innovative new product or service fails for the wrong reasons. The R&D is good, the customer feedback is positive, but somewhere along the line, it stumbles.

This, said Viviane, is because “current processes, routines and incentives were not adapted to embrace these new products and services, and then you can kill very good things [with] a supply chain that was not prepared, or a sales team that were not trained”.

Accept change doesn’t happen instantly

They say good things take time. Viviane agreed with that sentiment, advising business leaders to track small changes made over time as closely as overnight successes: “Don’t forget the importance of incremental innovation.”

Innovate – even when things look tough

“It’s even more important to foster innovation in difficult times,” said Viviane. Business leaders should continue to strive for new ideas, even when they feel the focus should be playing to a company’s established strengths.

Diversity and inclusion drive innovation

This one is a no-brainer, according to the Falconi CEO. “Companies that have higher levels of DEI, they are more innovative,” said Viviane, adding that there are many studies proving this.

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Main image of Viviane Martins, CEO of Falconi: Web Summit

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