Innovation is a multi-faceted term. Many people understand its connection to success – but not what it involves and the power of its outcome.

Cris Beswick is responsible for helping companies untap their potential, drive innovation and see results.

As part of our Business Leaders series, our CEO Ciaran Connolly speaks with Cris about his work and the impact investing in innovation has on organisations big and small.

Check out our video and read on to discover more about the powers of innovation.

Cris beswick: the power of innovation

Who is Cris Beswick?

Cris is not only an innovation strategist, but also a corporate coach, keynote speaker and a best selling author.

Business Innovation with Cris Beswick

Innovation has always been at the forefront of Cris’s career, as he initially started out as a product designer in the early 90s. Since then, his core profession now revolves around teaching companies how they can benefit from innovation.

“In essence I am a strategic advisor on innovation, working with CEOs, senior directors and boards of big organisations, helping them understand innovation, how to drive it and specifically how to build a culture of innovation.”

Innovation Explained

It is clear that innovation encompasses many elements but is the key to significant success.

Cris summarises what innovation really is, and emphasises how a lack of understanding of innovation is the main reason why people do not profit from it.

“Innovation is not a thing, it is not something you do or that you have or you can get, it is not a tangible, physical thing you can pick up, hold or see. Innovation is an outcome.

“One of the big challenges with organisations is they don’t really define innovation and understand it enough as a word and as a subject to be able to capitalise on what it means.

“What we do is we get organisations to understand innovation as an outcome of lots of stuff. So great strategy, brilliant leadership, a real understanding of how to spot problems and opportunities and how to capitalise on these.

“This involves how to see something a competitor hasn’t or unearth a problem people have that you can solve and then commercialise.”

Cris states that our innovation is ultimately measured by customer satisfaction and retention.

“The phrase I use is ‘innovation is a badge that can only be bestowed upon us by our customers’. The outcome needs to be brilliant stuff for customers so that they come back for more. That means innovation has been achieved.”

Cris Beswick photo
Cris recognises that innovation keeps businesses competitive. Image credit: Cris Beswick

Looking at Innovation Through New Lens

Innovation is what separates businesses from the rest in many ways, not just by having a unique product or service. Cris details the importance of looking at innovation itself in a new way, making it more attainable to more companies.

“The challenge with innovation is that we’ve traditionally looked at innovation through a narrow lens and have only looked at it through product innovation.

“Innovation now has a larger importance than ever before, as it is about a much wider spectrum of things. It’s not just about products. We now have experience, business models and even leadership as a concept.

“This should all be focused on when exploring innovation. Why just focus on a product? If your delivery, infrastructure or your customer experience is terrible then it’s not enough. So it’s not just about a product but the experience.”
Innovation can even be implemented in the daily running of a business, says Cris.

“We now live in a world where we have to change and adapt super quick. We have the macro strategy that organisations would like to achieve over several years – but the micro activity of an organisation which is done on a daily basis can be done differently, more creatively, more efficiently and better. So all of that in a way is innovation.”

By looking at innovation through a new lens, can companies start incorporating innovation daily and implementing real, strategic change.

Innovation in Action

It can be hard to pinpoint a great all-encompassing example of innovation. In our interview, Cris illustrates innovation using a very familiar brand.

“Take Apple for instance. It’s not just a product that is great, it is every part of the organisation that is great. The packaging, the experience, the store, the logistics, the whole system has been designed to win.

“That’s what me and my team do now, through innovation we help organisations design themselves to win.”

How does Cris do this? In order to action innovative tactics, he tasks clients to examine their company as a whole.

“If you really want to build an exceptional organisation – you can’t just say innovation is about the next product we produce, you have to look at every part of your organisation.

“We get organisations to understand that innovation is an outcome of many things.

We get them to understand how to spot problems and opportunities and how to capitalise on those.

“This solution will make customers say ‘wow’ and that the company is so great due to what the company has done. That’s the result you want and that’s the outcome we should all be striving for as organisations.”

To learn more about business innovation and how you can start, watch the full Cris Beswick interview.

Digital Training Antrim - Same Digital Training Culture

Companies Cultivating Innovation Cultures

When it comes to fostering innovation, some companies stand out as shining examples. Let’s dive into three diverse case studies that showcase how they cultivate thriving cultures of innovation:

1. Google: Embracing “Moonshot Ideas” with 20% Time:

  • The Culture: Google encourages employees to dedicate 20% of their work time to pursuing their own independent projects, free from the constraints of daily tasks. This “20% time” has led to groundbreaking innovations like Gmail, Google Maps, and Google News, proving that granting freedom to explore can unlock game-changing ideas.
  • How they achieve it: Google creates a safe space for experimentation, providing resources and support for employees’ “moonshot projects.” They promote failure as a valuable learning experience and celebrate successes no matter the scale.

2. 3M: Where “Curiosity Drives Innovation” with Post-it Notes:

  • The Culture: 3M has a long history of encouraging curiosity and a “can-do” attitude. They empower employees to explore problems and experiment with solutions, even seemingly “unsuccessful” ones. This laid the groundwork for accidental discoveries like the Post-it Note, born from a weak adhesive initially meant for bookmarks.
  • How they achieve it: 3M invests heavily in research and development, providing labs and resources for employees to experiment. They encourage cross-pollination of ideas between departments and reward innovation at all levels.

3. Haier: Democratizing Innovation through User-Driven Design:

  • The Culture: Haier decentralizes decision-making, empowering small, self-managed teams to directly interact with customers and develop products based on their needs. This focus on user-driven design leads to highly innovative and relevant products, often surpassing those conceived in traditional top-down structures.
  • How they achieve it: Haier breaks down traditional hierarchies, giving individual employees the autonomy and resources to make decisions and experiment. They actively gather customer feedback and integrate it into their product development process.

Beyond the Big Names:

Remember, innovation isn’t exclusive to giants. Smaller companies like Zappos (known for its focus on employee happiness) and Patagonia (driven by its environmental commitment) also boast robust innovation cultures by tailoring their approaches to their unique values and goals.

Lessons to Learn:

These examples highlight key pillars of fostering an innovative culture:

  • Embrace experimentation and a “fail fast” mentality.
  • Empower employees and grant them autonomy.
  • Invest in research and development.
  • Prioritize user feedback and customer needs.
  • Celebrate successes and learn from failures.

By incorporating these lessons and learning from diverse case studies, any company can embark on its own journey towards building a thriving culture of innovation.

The Crucial Role of Leadership in Fostering Innovation

Building a vibrant culture of innovation isn’t an organic process; it requires dedicated leadership that champions creativity, encourages risk-taking, and nurtures a supportive environment where ideas can take flight. Let’s explore the critical ways leaders act as the wind beneath the wings of innovation:

1. Visionaries and Architects:

  • Setting the North Star: Effective leaders paint a clear and compelling vision for innovation within the organization. They articulate the “why” behind fostering creativity and connect it to the company’s overall goals, motivating employees to embrace the journey.
  • Shaping the Culture: Leaders set the tone by embodying the desired innovative behaviors. They demonstrate openness to new ideas, celebrate experimentation and learning, and actively encourage collaboration and risk-taking.

2. Empowering Champions:

  • Decentralizing Decision-Making: Leaders trust their teams and empower them to own their projects, make decisions, and experiment within defined parameters. This fosters a sense of ownership and accountability, driving individuals to innovate and solve problems with a stake in the outcome.
  • Investing in Talent and Resources: Leaders provide the necessary resources to support innovation efforts. This includes allocating budgets for research and development, investing in employee training and development programs, and creating spaces conducive to creative collaboration.

3. Removing Roadblocks and Fostering Open Communication:

  • Breaking Down Silos: Leaders actively encourage cross-functional collaboration and break down silos between departments. This enables diverse perspectives to converge, sparking new ideas and solutions that wouldn’t arise in isolation.
  • Championing Open Communication: Leaders create a safe space for open communication, where employees feel comfortable sharing ideas, expressing concerns, and even disagreeing constructively. This fosters a culture of psychological safety, crucial for individuals to take risks and voice their innovative thoughts.

4. Recognizing and Rewarding Innovation:

  • Celebrating Successes, Big and Small: Leaders actively recognize and celebrate innovative achievements, no matter the scale. This could range from acknowledging early-stage experiments to applauding breakthrough inventions. Showing appreciation motivates individuals and reinforces the value of embracing new ideas.
  • Learning from Failures: Leaders view failures as valuable learning opportunities, not dead ends. They encourage sharing knowledge gained from unsuccessful attempts and leverage it to refine future innovative efforts.

Leading by Example:

  • Walking the Talk: Leaders practicing what they preach is crucial. Demonstrating innovative behaviors themselves, such as participating in brainstorming sessions, actively seeking feedback, and being open to learning new things, sends a powerful message to the entire organization.
  • Continuous Learning and Adaptation: The innovation landscape is constantly evolving. Effective leaders remain curious, embrace lifelong learning, and adapt their leadership styles to navigate emerging trends and challenges in the world of innovation.

Remember, leadership is not a solo act. By cultivating a collaborative and supportive environment, leaders set the stage for a symphony of innovation to unfold. Their dedication to championing creativity, empowering individuals, and fostering a culture of continuous learning ultimately lays the foundation for organizations to thrive in a world where innovation is the key to success.

How Diversity and Inclusion Fuel Innovation

In the quest for groundbreaking ideas and game-changing solutions, one ingredient often holds the key: diversity and inclusion. When we welcome a mosaic of viewpoints, experiences, and backgrounds, we unlock a wellspring of creativity and innovation, propelling us beyond the limitations of homogenous thinking. Let’s explore why diversity and inclusion are not just ethical imperatives but also powerful engines for innovation:

1. Embracing the Kaleidoscope of Perspectives:

  • Breaking the Echo Chamber: When everyone around you thinks alike, confirmation bias thrives and fresh ideas struggle to emerge. But with diverse teams, preconceived notions are challenged, blind spots are exposed, and a range of perspectives come to the table. This sparks vigorous debate, ignites critical thinking, and ultimately leads to more comprehensive and innovative solutions.
  • Unveiling Unseen Opportunities: Lived experiences shape our perspectives and problem-solving approaches. By including individuals from underrepresented groups, we gain access to unique insights and viewpoints often overlooked by homogeneous teams. This opens doors to new markets, uncovers unmet needs, and leads to the development of groundbreaking solutions relevant to a wider audience.

2. Unleashing Untapped Creative Potential:

  • Crossing Cultural Pollination: When diverse backgrounds and cultures come together, a vibrant space for cross-pollination of ideas emerges. Cultural nuances spark creative connections, seemingly unrelated concepts merge, and unexpected solutions materialize. This cross-cultural synergy pushes the boundaries of imagination and leads to innovation that transcends conventional frameworks.
  • The Power of Cognitive Dissonance: When individuals with different ways of thinking and solving problems collaborate, cognitive dissonance, a healthy mental friction, entsteht. This tension pushes teams to refine their ideas, find common ground, and ultimately arrive at solutions that are stronger and more inclusive than any one individual could have conceived.

3. Building Trust and Psychological Safety:

  • The Comfort of “Knowing You Belong”: When individuals feel valued, respected, and heard, regardless of their background, they’re more likely to take risks, share their vulnerabilities, and express their creative ideas. This safe space fosters a sense of psychological safety, the bedrock of innovation, where experimentation and failure are embraced as stepping stones on the path to progress.
  • Collective Intelligence in Action: Diversity and inclusion create an environment where everyone feels empowered to contribute their unique talents and perspectives. This collective intelligence leads to a richer pool of ideas, more robust problem-solving approaches, and ultimately, a higher chance of achieving breakthrough innovation.

Beyond the Hype, Actionable Steps:

Embracing diversity and inclusion for innovation requires real action, not just rhetoric. Here are some practical steps:

  • Build diverse teams: Actively seek and hire individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, and disciplines.
  • Create inclusive environments: Foster open communication, challenge unconscious biases, and celebrate diverse perspectives.
  • Invest in diversity and inclusion training: Equip employees with the tools and understanding to work effectively in diverse teams.
  • Measure and track progress: Set clear goals and track progress on diversity and inclusion initiatives to ensure continuous improvement.

Sustainability and Continuous Improvement in Innovation Cultures

Building a vibrant culture of innovation isn’t a one-time feat; it’s a continuous journey of tending the flames of creativity, nurturing growth, and adapting to the ever-changing landscape. Just like a garden, an innovation culture needs constant care and attention to maintain its vitality and yield a bountiful harvest of ideas. Let’s explore the essential practices to ensure your innovation culture remains sustainable and thrives in the long run:

1. Embracing Continuous Improvement:

  • Learning from Every Step: View every success and setback as a learning opportunity. Celebrate achievements while analyzing them for potential optimizations. Use failures as stepping stones, dissecting them to identify blind spots and refine your approach.
  • Feedback Loops and Experimentation: Create a culture of open feedback, where employee and customer insights are actively sought and used to iterate on existing ideas and processes. Encourage healthy experimentation, and embrace calculated risks as a path to uncovering unexplored opportunities.
  • Measuring and Adapting: Regularly track your innovation efforts using meaningful metrics. Analyze your progress, identify areas for improvement, and adapt your strategies based on your findings. Remember, a rigid culture stifles innovation; staying flexible and responsive to change is key.

2. Nurturing the Seeds of Inspiration:

  • Fueling Curiosity and Creativity: Keep the spark of curiosity alive! Provide opportunities for employees to learn new things, explore diverse perspectives, and engage in activities that stimulate their creative impulses. This could involve hosting workshops, hackathons, or simply creating spaces for informal brainstorming sessions.
  • Investing in Talent and Resources: Allocate resources to support ongoing innovation efforts. This includes investing in employee training, development programs, and providing access to the tools and technologies needed to bring their ideas to life.
  • Recognizing and Rewarding Innovation: Celebrate innovative achievements, no matter the scale. Publicly acknowledge individual and team contributions, and create a culture where innovation is recognized and rewarded as a valuable asset.

3. Cultivating a Growth Mindset:

  • Encouraging Open Communication and Collaboration: Break down silos and foster a culture of open communication and collaboration. Encourage individuals from different departments and backgrounds to come together, share ideas, and work towards common goals.
  • Embracing Diversity and Inclusion: Remember, diversity of thought is the fuel for innovation. Actively seek and welcome individuals from different backgrounds and perspectives. Create an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued, heard, and empowered to contribute their unique talents and ideas.
  • Challenging the Status Quo: Don’t settle for complacency. Encourage healthy skepticism and challenge existing assumptions. Encourage employees to question the status quo and explore new ways of doing things, even if it means stepping outside their comfort zones.

Remember, innovation is a living ecosystem, not a static monument. By embracing continuous improvement, nurturing the seeds of inspiration, and cultivating a growth mindset, we can ensure our innovation cultures remain fertile ground for groundbreaking ideas, sustainable successes, and lasting impact in a world that constantly demands fresh perspectives and groundbreaking solutions.

Here are some additional ways to personalize this section:

  • Share inspiring examples of companies that have successfully sustained and evolved their innovation cultures over time.
  • Offer practical tips and actionable strategies for organizations to implement these practices within their own teams or environments.
  • Discuss the potential challenges organizations might face in maintaining a vibrant innovation culture and propose solutions for overcoming them.
  • Encourage readers to share their own experiences and best practices for sustaining and enhancing innovation cultures within their communities.

Create a Culture of Innovation: FAQs and Conclusion

Ready to spark a revolution of creativity and drive progress within your organization? Building a thriving culture of innovation isn’t magic, but it does require commitment, strategic nurturing, and continuous learning. Let’s explore some frequently asked questions and wrap up with a final call to action to equip you on your journey:


Q: What are the key characteristics of an innovative culture?

  • Embraces experimentation and failure as learning opportunities. Mistakes are seen as stepping stones, not dead ends.
  • Empowers employees and grants them autonomy. Individuals feel trusted to own their work and take risks.
  • Invests in research and development. Resources are allocated to support innovation efforts.
  • Prioritizes user feedback and customer needs. Solutions are driven by real-world problems and desires.
  • Celebrates successes and learns from failures. Achievements are recognized, and setbacks are analyzed for improvement.

Q: How can I get started fostering innovation in my company?

  • Start small and build momentum. Implement pilot programs or launch innovation challenges on a smaller scale.
  • Champion open communication and collaboration. Break down silos and encourage cross-functional teamwork.
  • Invest in training and development programs. Equip employees with the skills and knowledge to innovate effectively.
  • Recognize and reward innovative behaviors. Showcase achievements and celebrate individuals who embrace creativity.
  • Lead by example. Executives and managers should embody the desired innovative behaviors.

Q: What are the biggest challenges to building a sustainable culture of innovation?

  • Fear of failure. A culture that punishes mistakes can stifle creativity.
  • Resistance to change. Some individuals may be hesitant to embrace new ideas or processes.
  • Lack of resources. Time, money, and access to tools can be limiting factors.
  • Poor communication and collaboration. Silos and communication breakdowns can hinder innovation efforts.
  • Leadership that doesn’t champion innovation. Lack of support from upper management can kill momentum.


Cultivating a vibrant culture of innovation isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. But with dedication, the right strategies, and continuous improvement, you can transform your organization into a hotbed of groundbreaking ideas, lasting solutions, and thriving success.


  • Embrace curiosity and experimentation.
  • Empower your team and celebrate their creativity.
  • Measure your progress and learn from your experiences.
  • Adapt and evolve to stay ahead of the curve.

Start your journey today. Spark the flames of innovation, nurture them with passion and strategic care, and watch your organization bloom with the power of transformative ideas.

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