In brief

In brief

  • Building and maintaining an innovation culture is crucial but often elusive.
  • 63% of executives surveyed agreed that building a strong innovation culture is a critical enabler for their firm to grow. 
  • Just 20% believe their company has the kind of culture it takes to support the ongoing innovation needed to thrive.
  • Our research focused on companies with practices that sustain innovation with the performance to prove it—we call them Innovation Pacesetters.


So what’s the key to creating an innovation culture in which companies realize a robust return on their innovation investments? Our research homed in on a set of companies that have strong innovation cultures and the performance to prove it—we call them Innovation Pacesetters. We compared the Pacesetters to the rest and we found that innovation structures (processes, technologies and resources) are indeed important. But, leading companies augment their structures with the right innovation mindsets and behaviors. In fact, they create a virtuous cycle of innovation structures, mindsets and behaviors that work together to hardwire the organization for innovation and to fuel an innovation culture that helps them realize a strong innovation ROI, develop effective new ways of working and drive the growth and scale that enable strong financial performance.

What Innovation Pacesetters do differently

What goes into a thriving innovation culture? Ultimately, we found that while Pacesetters are like many others in their desire to provide structures that support innovation, they also prioritize creating strong innovation cultures across their entire organization.

We found that five practices—a mix of hard and soft levers—are present in large part across Pacesetters, and far less common in Stragglers.

The five winning practices are:

  1. Leading
  2. Steering
  3. Being
  4. Enabling
  5. Doing
Five winning innovation practices diagram

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