The Role of Culture On Innovation

May 25, 2016

Earlier this spring, a panel of senior leaders from the health care, start up, aerospace and tech  communities gathered at the Cambia Grove for a lively discussion on the role of organizational culture and innovation.

The panel was moderated by Rebecca Norlander, Co-Founder and CEO of Health123 and included:

Sandy Stelling, Managing Director, Customer Research & Development at Alaska Airlines Jordan Ritter, Founder and CEO of Atlas Informatics Ralph Derrickson, President and CEO of Carena, Inc. Tami Lamp, EVP Human Resources at Group Health

There was broad consensus among the panel that, to drive success, organizational culture should both help establish core values that evolve as the company moves forward, and also provide a framework which strives to foster innovation within the company.

The panelists detailed their respective approaches to creating a safe space for innovation. These included launching programs internally that both honor the past and also use lean start-up methodology to allow team members to get comfortable with the terminology and navigate the possibilities for being creative, even in areas that are not considered as ‘creative’ or that are more ‘risk-averse.’

The rigor demanded by customer service and delivery can often kill or impact innovation, panelists said, but effective organizations must acknowledge these challenges, and be deliberate about innovation. Stelling explained that, for Alaska Airlines, customers are the biggest fans of new ideas and innovations: “They tell us, ‘we love it that you care about us enough that you’re willing to try new things’.”

Norlander also spoke to this healthy conflict between innovation and satisfying customer demand: “It’s like a ying yang: making sure you have people with the traits, who are diverse enough to intentionally create a culture that is sustainable and actually helps business.”

For a more detailed recap of the conversation, read the Cambia Grove blog post, Organizational Culture that Drives Success. Some video highlights of the session are available below:

Event Highlights: Leadership Focus - Organizational Culture that Drives Success

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