Why innovation requires the right culture

Roadie-turned-businessman Richard Mulholland chats to us about the culture shift needed for innovation.

Richard Mulholland is a highly regarded business thinker, innovator and speaker. He authored his book Legacide: Why legacy thinking is the silent killer of innovation (with another book on the way!), is an avid blogger and vlogger, writes for Longevity and Destiny Man and besides recording a weekly podcast on CliffCentral, he also lectures a bit at The Cape Graduate School of Business (GSB) and the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS).

Richard kicked off his career as a rock ‘n roll roadie, operating lights for bands such as Iron Maiden and Def Leppard. He went on to start SA’s largest presentation firm, Missing Link, and then co-founded SA’s first perspective lab, 21Tanks.

In this episode of Working better, together., Rich chats to us about his fascinating career and his thoughts on innovation in business. We’ve put down some notes below 👇

“In an established company, innovation doesn’t happen when you start doing something new. Innovation happens when you stop doing something old.”

When it comes to “legacide” (the putting to death of legacy thinking, which truly enables innovation), it seems that it really comes down to organisational culture: in order to innovate, you need to have the kind of culture where people can call you out on your particular solution — it may have solved a problem before, but now there could be better tools to do the job or perhaps the problem has shifted.

“It’s inconceivable that the tech solution that we start creating today will be the ultimate solution that solves a problem 3 years from now… Understand that it’s going to change.”

You need to ask yourself these three questions:

1) What problem were we solving when we put this in place?
2) Is this still a/the problem?
3) Is the way we solved it then, still the best way to solve it now?

“People become so invested in a system/process/thinking behind a solution, but we need to rekindle our love for the problem. It’s always about the problem.”

So, when it comes to your company culture, you need to amplify certain behaviours. If you amplify negative or legacy behaviours (even by saying ‘we will never tolerate this’), that behaviour will have the strongest gravity. You need to constantly try and amplify the behaviour you’re trying to replicate.

“People don’t create a culture. Some people create a culture. Usually the negative person has a stronger gravity.”

Enjoy! Hit play ▶️ above to watch the interview video.
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Timestamp notes:

1.32 — Richard tells us about his business background and now his transition into a new company, Cultovation.

3.31 — What is SnowCon?

4.54 — Richard on innovation.

7.17 — The obvious things that companies need to change to grow a culture for innovation.

9.42 — Large companies vs small companies.

11.14 — So what’s the best way to fix a culture problem? What is your definition of culture?

15.00 — The importance of transparent recognition.

15.40 — An average day for Richard. Very interesting!

18.36 — A lesson learnt while waitering at Spur when Rich was 20.

19.12 — About learning fatigue.

21.13 — How to reach Richard. Website: richardmulholland.co.za, Youtube (easy-to-watch weekly vids), Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Some final thoughts from Richard:

“I try my best not to work too hard. I find work is overrated.”

If you have any feedback, comments, ideas or suggestions, please get in contact with us on twitter @giveahi5 or email us on podcasts@get5.io.

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