Having a “culture of innovation” is something we hear a lot about now. Companies all over the world come to Communitech and other tech hubs to learn about how startups and scale-ups maintain their innovative culture. The assumption from these large organizations is that with a series of declarations, casual dress policies, ping pong tables and innovation labs, they will suddenly be able to fend off the disruptors.

Reality isn’t so simple. Most enterprise organizations don’t need an innovative culture for all their employees or divisions. They need to maintain the ability to execute on the existing business model, and find the most innovative people inside who can explore new products, services and business models.

In other words, get the right people doing the right things.

We really like the three horizons of innovation as a model to explore how enterprise companies can build a strategy and portfolio of innovation. This can be applied to people as well the organization. Horizon 1 people are those that like the consistency and reliability of their job. Don’t try to change them, they are happy executing. These people are vital to any strategy…if you don’t have the executors, then nothing gets to the finish line. The Horizon 2 people are the connectors. They are the ones who connect the process people to the real visionary thinkers. These people are disruptors first and then become the enablers. Finally, the Horizon 3 people are the ones who constantly push boundaries, look to build new things and are generally difficult to manage. Give them the freedom to create.

Over the next number of posts, we’ll explore the intersection of culture, people, and behaviours. We’ll explore how you can execute what you do today and innovate on what you need to do tomorrow.

The Nimble Hippo looks at how large organizations can build innovative cultures and disruptive strategies by taking the best lessons from startup ecosystems and applying them in a big-company context.