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Nov 30, 201712:08 PMOpen Mic

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5 reasons why your ‘old-school industry’ needs to care about a culture of innovation

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Innovation isn’t about the latest technology trends. It doesn’t happen just because you have a Ping-Pong table and a keg of Spotted Cow in the break room. It happens because you have the right culture in your organization. Culture is about the people.

Let me explain. Today was a jam-packed day with a reoccurring theme throughout. Most of the companies I met with consider themselves working in “old-school industries” and for this reason the companies “don’t really care about culture.” I understand what it means to be in an old-school industry because I’ve worked in them. The workforce in the industry may be full of employees who are days away from retirement; they cringe at using a CRM like Salesforce, or switching from a notebook to an iPad. I can understand the aversion to new technology. What I don’t understand is why this would cause a company to not care about its culture. If anything, it should prompt the company to care — and do something about it.

Often we forget that we are human beings, not human capital or a number on a spreadsheet — we aren’t being inducted into an organization. Beyond the superficial, why should these companies or industries care about their people? What is their competitive advantage for the long term that “protects” them from disruption? There is almost no mid- or long-term protection in this day and age. Laws and regulations may have once protected an old-school insurance company from change, but new agile companies emerge with innovative solutions ready to disrupt the establishment. It’s innovate or die, based on culture not tech.

Prime examples are companies like Kodak or Blockbuster. Kodak’s historic tagline was “share memories, share life.” What if they would have done something with this, like created an app where I could share an image with the world. Maybe today it would be a $1 billion division of Kodak that Facebook would purchase. Oh, and is there anywhere for me to return a Blockbuster VHS with the “Please be kind, rewind” slogan on it?

If you don’t invest in your people, then your culture will suffer, your organization won’t innovate, and you’ll enjoy your Kodak moment.

So, what are the five reasons why an old-school industry should care about company culture?

  1. On average, a millennial is willing to give up $7,600 in salary each year to work at a job that has a good culture. This should be a wake up call to companies that work in an old-school industry because …
  2. By 2020, nearly half of the workforce will be millennials. Currently, millennials have the largest share of the American workforce. Gen Z are the new kids on the block that we should be discussing because of how they differ from millennials.
  3. Millennials value culture more than any other generation in history. This trend will continue to increase over time with future generations. It’s more than a few posters on the wall. It’s about meaning, value, and connection.
  4. Seventy percent of employees are disengaged at work, which contributes to a $750 billion loss to the U.S. economy due to overall disengagement.
  5. Who will you hire when the older generations retire? The torch must be passed at some point. You will need to hire younger employees or your organization will go out of business. You need their buy-in. Part of culture is trusting them in shaping the vision, mission, and operations.


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