Insider Intelligence: Sustaining a Culture of Innovation

May 18, 2015
Visionary integrators offer enterprising advice

In preparation for our annual TEC conference, I recently facilitated a roundtable discussion with leading systems integrators to gather their talking points to feature in the annual “State of the Integrator” panel. Inspired in good part by the cybersecurity phenomenon driving wide-scale changes affecting culture, process and technology, the theme for this year’s highly anticipated panel discussion in May is “Adapt or Die.”

Appropriately, the panelists selected lead thriving enterprises in this endlessly evolving technology environment. Fearlessly delving into uncharted waters, they embrace uncommon solutions and custom engineer many projects. During the pre-TEC discussion, I asked them, “In today’s fast moving and competitive climate, how do you sustain a culture of innovation?”

Much of the advice that flowed from these contemporary minds appeared to be inspired from wisdom offered long before their time. Here is the insight our visionary panelists shared, along with ways you can apply it to your own business strategy:

Know thyself. Written on the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, legend tells this axiom was inscribed at the entry to its sacred oracle. You can’t know where you are going if you don’t know who you are. Establish your identity as a company that is characterized by continuously embracing innovation. Be the “go to guys” that always bring ingenious ideas and new technology. Customers will turn to you to keep them informed of fresh options.

Be passionately curious. Einstein claimed he had “no special talent, I am only passionately curious.” One of the executives on the panel shared that she founded a company core value on this very principle. In this organization, every employee is empowered and encouraged to cultivate their growth and knowledge in areas of study that may diverge from the company’s core competencies in order to stimulate new thought. Foster a community of creators of your own. Encourage your people to challenge each other with new solutions; and make sure folks are rewarded for taking risks with new ideas.

Create your community. All of the leaders at the round table agreed that developing partnerships with people and companies that can help them to forge new directions and execute on newly adopted strategies is an integral part of their process. You can’t go it alone. Networking with like-minded entrepreneurs to foster professional collaboration is a driving force behind attending industry conferences and participating in industry associations and committees.

Finally, trust in your pure potential. Ancient sages taught that within us lies the potential for unbounded creativity. We just need to tap into it. Creativity is the cornerstone for all problem solving. Generate uncontested market opportunities by remaining open-minded. Avoid being limited by illusions of market space seemingly being dominated by much larger and often times better funded competitors. Many times these larger organizations get stuck within their own boundaries, repeatedly selling the same solution sets and echoing what they have been doing for years. Innovation is not what they are designed to deliver. Novel solutions presented by a nimble and agile provider can make competition irrelevant on the right opportunity.

Barbara Shaw, CPLP, is Director of Education for PSA Security Network. To request more info about PSA, visit