Mind over matter: How to drive an innovative culture
Mind over matter: How to drive an innovative culture

Mind over matter: How to drive an innovative culture

One of the themes in high performing cultures is “fail fast/learn quickly.”

As KPMG’s Chief Culture Officer, I am always looking for ways to strengthen our firm’s culture. In today’s environment, one of the themes we hear and see in high performing cultures is “fail fast/learn quickly.”  Many CEOs know this to be true: Our survey shows that 92 percent of U.S. CEOs want their employees to feel empowered to innovate without worrying about negative consequences for them if their initiatives fail.

These “innovative cultures” have to possess a high comfort level with disruptive technologies. Those same technologies can help the organization learn from its innovation efforts—from both its successes and failures.

Acceptance of failure is part of the process on the road to innovation. We have seen leaders on that road measure and celebrate “attempts,” as opposed to merely “wins.” Instead of overreacting or reprimanding teams (especially publicly), which would stop innovation in its tracks, leaders on that road to innovation overtly focus on the learnings from those failures, and how those learnings can be applied to try again or try a different approach.

This leadership mind-set, where all failures are opportunities to learn, is critical for in leading a purpose-driven company. Jeffrey Simmons, CEO of Elanco Animal Health, possesses that mind-set. As he sees it, “If you work for a purpose-driven company, you are highly engaged, and you are so passionate about the work that the freedom to innovate happens naturally. Purpose-driven employees come up with a solution, not because of pay or because they’re trying to get promoted, but because of the purpose they pursue.”

Embracing new technologies may not be easy, but so much can be derived from those technologies when you have an open mind and acknowledge that everyone is in learning mode. And you never know what “mistakes” may turn out to be the beginning of something truly unique and innovative that can set your culture apart from the competition.

For further insights and data from leading U.S. CEOs and KPMG leaders, download the entire “Agile or irrelevant: Redefining resilience” U.S. CEO Outlook report here

Prioritizing investments

Thinking specifically about improving your organization's resilience, which of the following investments are you prioritizing?


investing in developing their worksforce and capabilities


investing in buying new technology

About the blog series

Our fifth annual U.S. CEO Outlook, based on a survey of 400 U.S. chief executive officers (CEOs) across all major industries and conversations with a dozen leading CEOs, offers deep insights into the major forces impacting today’s business landscape, and how CEOs are managing the challenges. “Agile or irrelevant: Redefining resilience,” our 2019 U.S. CEO Outlook report, indicates that the majority of CEOs surveyed believe the ability to be agile and build a resilient organization is critical to remaining relevant as the speed of change accelerates. Our blog series provides perspective and insight from a wide range of KPMG leaders on these findings.