Today I read a summary of a report called Japan’s Innovation Strategy in my quest to find out why Japan is regarded such an innovative nation. Even though Japan is known to be one of the world’s most innovative nations the report argued that in order to create a wealthy economy capable of taking care of the increasing aged population Japan has to become more innovative. I suppose this can be because the world is slowly realizing that innovation is not only technological innovation and that there are better ways to measure innovation than measuring the number of patents in a country. Whatever the reason, according to the report, in order to become more innovative Japan needs to create a society characterized by diversity, an open mindset, a willingness to collaborate and the ability to communicate.
The first of the points in the strategy is “to build an open society. To liberate Japan’s innovative abilities, it must tear down the many walls that exist within its society”
The second step is to build a diverse society. It will be necessary to actively assimilate groups of people who have not traditionally had a say in Japanese society.
The third is to build an attractive society, one that people can be proud of. “In order for innovation to occur, it is necessary to have a clear and engaging goal.”
So, the key words for a society where innovations can thrive seem to be open, diverse and attractive. If we switch the word “society” for the word “environment”, in the sense of the company’s internal environment it becomes clear that these steps are not irrelevant for companies. Rather, I think companies could use these same steps to create an innovative environment within. For a company this means;
- open up! – letting the users and other external stakeholders in, as well as opening up structures within the company to enable communication.
- embrace diversity !- make sure the environment is diverse in terms such as people’s skills, backgrounds, genders, and interest.
- be attractive!- take care of the stakeholders, both internal and external, and make the company a truly attractive place to be so that you can attract the best talent. Make the environment such that employees feel happy and secure.
I suppose countries and companies aren’t that different when it comes to innovation, which isn’t very surprising since it is all about creating the right environment for people to use their creativity and skills.
Picture from: Flutterscape