• September 24, 2020
  • culture

On October 18, 1996, in a magazine called  CNet, an article appeared by the title “Innovate or die on the Net:If Netscape is David to Microsoft's Goliath, then FTP Software may be one of several bugs trying to get out from under Goliath's foot.” Leaving the technical jargon aside, there from, the quote “Innovate or die” stuck in the business community.

Then Apple returned with a vengeance and overthrew Nokia. There from, the quote “Innovate or die” became folklore.  

Even in Nepal, companies need to innovate to stay competitive. In Narayanghat, an entrepreneur was seen going to various shops and homes with a new product.He thought he will revolutionize the local transportation industry. Many people mocked his innovative idea, rejecting him as childish due to the type of product and the vision he had. Within a year, this product challenged the other means of transportation. This product was a lowered electric tempo. It is suitable only in flat or gentle slopes and not too long distances. Now this tempo is a smashing hit with users and of course the owners.

Status quo

Since the beginning of time, man survived due to his ingenuity. He invented fire, then he found ways to sharpen a stone to turn into a spear. He made a better spear and so on. If man had stuck to status quo we would long been extinct as other species.  

However,the most organizations cannot innovate like Nokia. Many organizations in fact resist innovation: Nokia’s engineers had come up with working models of touch screens long before Steve Jobs.

Now investors expect their companies to be innovative. However, it is easier said than done. The CEOs try all kind of things to make their companies innovative like the following:

  • Like Google, follow a 80/20 rule, where engineers spend 80%of their time in daily operations and 20 percent of their time in new projects
  • Total quality management circles, where workers gather together to solve that day’s problem in innovative ways
  • Creating a new company that follows totally different sets of rules than the bigger parent company
  • Outsourcing the creative part
  • Buying creative companies like Microsoft bought Skype and Google bought YouTube
  • Rewarding innovative ideas publicly
  • Organize creative retreats
  • Assemble a team of experts from unrelated and diverse fields to solve the problem at hand
  • Asking employees if they have any creative ideas.

Indicators of innovative culture

If any of the above techniques works, some or all of the following indicators will show up pointing towards a culture of innovation based on the article by Sharlyn Lauby “9 Indicators of An Innovative Culture” published in HRBartender.com.  

  • Flexible work space: Rigidity and innovation donot get along. If your organization is innovative, people will be open to better ways to do the same old thing even thoughit might be a bit clumsy or even threateningat the beginning.
  • Employees who can handle ambiguity and structure: This is the paradox. Employees from an innovative culture will be able to tolerate both confusion and SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures)
  • Employees who can be both collaborative and experimental: It is the ability to work as team and also being able to venture out to try out new things without the consent of others.
  • Speed is considered an organization value: Speed of coming up with new creative solution, experimenting, and putting action as hallmarks of a culture of innovation.  
  • Employees can take action over striving for a perfect outcome: Innovations are like babies and these must be taken care with strong and swift decisions to act.
  • The goal is to have a work that is sustainable within the organization: Innovation and its outcome must be sustainable.
  • Employees are trained to be translators and guides: Innovations doesnot happen within the framework of the current problem. Solutions to problems of engineering are found in biology, of marketing in war, of operations in sports, etc. Innovative cultures produce such employees that are open to cross disciplinary learnings willing to guide others.  


Innovation is based on an innovative culture. Computers cannot be innovative, people working for you must be. Even in Nepal, we need to innovate at every level.  

Authors: Mohan Ojha & Manohar Man Shrestha