Three Ways of Fostering a Culture of Innovation to Maintain a Competitive Advantage

Participating in Dallas Startup Week, I attended a panel discussion today called “Building the Future of Dallas: Key Elements of What Will Help Dallas Reach our Potential.” After listening to this accomplished panel, I’m excited about the future of this city. Moderated by Trey Bowles, the discussion from Kourtny Garrett, President and CEO of Downtown Dallas, Inc., Rebecca Cowle, Director of External Affairs at Texas Central, Jen Sanders, Executive Director for Dallas Innovation Alliance and Michelle Williams, Executive Director for The DEC Southern Region, centered on the idea that one of the key strategies for building a stronger Dallas is through cultivating a culture of innovation.

Trey Bowles chairs the Building the Future of Dallas discussion panel with Kourtny Garrett of Downtown Dallas, Inc., Jen Sanders of Dallas Innovation Alliance, Rebecca Cowle with Texas Central, and Michelle Williams of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center at Redbird.

Trey Bowles chairs the Building the Future of Dallas discussion panel with Kourtny Garrett of Downtown Dallas, Inc., Jen Sanders of Dallas Innovation Alliance, Rebecca Cowle with Texas Central, and Michelle Williams of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center at Redbird.

A competitive advantage today, whether for a city or a brand, is fleeting. And a competitive advantage is the best path to achieving a strong brand. Strong brands have the luxury of charging premium pricing, they thrive during economic downturns and they attract great employees and customers. They exhibit what we call the three “C’s” of branding: clarity, consistency and constancy. The only way today to truly and consistently maintain a competitive advantage, thereby passing the three C test, is by fostering a culture of innovation. Here are three ways to build a culture of innovation within your organization that will lead to a stronger brand that can boast a sustainable competitive advantage.

  1. Make innovation a collaborative process.

    Innovation can’t be forced–allowing your teams to participate in and be part of both problem solving and decision-making will foster it. In fact, research conducted with Silicon Valley companies by the Bay Area Council and Economic Institute discovered that those with employee-friendly cultures are almost four times more likely to align their innovation strategy with their overall business strategy.

  2. Approach innovation proactively.

    When a company or a brand approaches innovation because they have to in order to survive, they are simply being reactive to outside and competitive forces. Yet, a proactive innovator will build an internal culture of innovation by being internally driven and focused on achieving innovation that pushes both the brand and the overall business strategy forward. You should seek to have your company and your brand thrive, not just survive.

  3. Don’t be afraid to fail.

    As the New York Times bestselling author John C. Maxwell teaches, we must learn to fail forward. Our mistakes are simply stepping stones for our success. The difference between being average and achieving success is in our perception of and response to failure. Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, describes it this way, “We have to be willing to fail, to be wrong, to start over again with lessons learned.” Ultimately, it’s a combination of passion and perseverance that will allow you to fail forward by applying the learning you received to achieve future success for your brand.

By applying these strategies, you’ll be fostering a culture of innovation and building a brand that not only aligns with your business strategy but thrives due to a sustainable competitive advantage.