Come on, you already know this! Countless articles, researches and studies have shown that to create an innovation culture you need these key feminine values:
- Empathy so not only your innovation team can actually understand your customer and connect with your (potential) market;
- Intuition so you can feel the trends and capture weak signals;
- Nurturing embryonic ideas to maturation without a standard unique developmental process;
- Planning for future and patience when reward is uncertain and not immediate;
- Collaboration so you can confront ideas, cultures, perspectives;
- Compassion and understanding so that failure is not punished but transformed into learning.
Now you may argue that this list is not exhaustive and slightly biased because I am a woman. You are probably right, which doesn’t take away from the fact that I am right too ;o)
These key ingredients come from feminine values which is in essence what our mostly masculine corporate cultures need to evolve towards more innovative practices. Of course, women are not the sole bearers of feminine values, but they can more naturally embody them.
I want to emphasize that if you manage to get a critical mass of women in decision-making positions, they will more easily embody feminine values and hence enable your company culture to be more innovative. If you have some women but not a critical mass (30% is usually the start of critical mass) they will most likely have to « hide » their feminine values in order to « survive » in a masculine culture. More women at the top means also that men who embody feminine values will feel more powerful too and able to contribute in their own way without feeling inadequate or alienated.
In the end, it is not really about gender, but about the capacity of an organization to welcome feminine values in its corporate culture. But if you want to boost or speed up this evolution, the easiest way is to massively increase the ratio of women in influencing positions.
(Header’s image: Maria Callas from Apple’s 1997 ‘Think Different’ ad campaign.)