Culture = Tradition + Innovation

Culture is a major factor in any group of people of any size; the shared values, practices, attitudes and goals within the organisation are the group itself. Even in a small group of close friends you have many unspoken ‘rules’ or ways of speaking with in-jokes and a shared history that becomes part of how the group works.

Within business, your culture defines how you are seen not only by those within the group but also outside of the business. A successful business culture has several factors on which it is built and commonly these factors are tradition and innovation. Tradition is a familiar basis from where the company came from, the attitude with which it started, the values the company strives to demonstrate and in some respects the achievements they want to make. Without tradition, there is an emptiness to the culture of the business and a lack of stability. When there are firm and securely founded traditions and attitudes soaked through the business, there is a healthiness and integrity that will be obvious to customers and employees.

Obviously, without innovation, a business can die. The world of business marches on year by year, sometimes day by day, and with the development of new technology, innovation is needed more and more. A business where innovation isn’t part of the landscape has the potential to wilt.

It can seem that tradition and innovation are antonyms of each other, how can traditional mindset bare the change that comes from being innovative? A study from 2010 found that people are generally against ‘change’ because of a feeling that longevity means reliable and if something’s reliable why would you need to change it? However, a traditional mindset combined with innovation can be a strong way that your business can develop. If your traditions that are at the foundation of your business are integrity, respect, service and growth then innovation really should be at the heart of your tradition!

Culture isn’t a static entity as it applies to the business at any time and unforeseen circumstances can come in at any time; your customers will change, your staff will change, your car will change! Being open to the world of innovation doesn’t override your traditions. If there seems to be a conflict between tradition and innovation then, if possible, trace back in the history of the company to see where innovation had to happen for the company to grow and develop, highlight the change to the opposition and see the benefit of innovation to come light.

Innovation for innovation’s sake, however, doesn’t help either. To change with no clear goal is pointless which is where a secure strategy put in place because of your traditions really balances the culture of your business. Having a strategy when it comes to innovation will bring greater focus rather than pursuing a lead just for the sake of ‘modernity’ or being ‘cutting edge’.

In summary, it is possible to stay traditional in your values while continuing to grow through innovation in your company. This is what defines your culture.

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