A culture of innovation is a culture of listening


In this article, written by Charlie Kautz for our editorial partner, the adidas Group, he draws upon the example of the adidas Group Innovation Academy, which provides a platform upon which its participants are empowered to share inspiring and thoughtful insight in a new space, away from the stigmatic preconceptions that often obstruct a personal sense of fulfillment in modern professional life.

However, in business life we still seem to live very often in a world where organisational hierarchy almost universally reigns supreme, our individual work output designed, delegated and done to appease specific goals set by a systemic chain of command that works and has been working for a long time.


That being said, the circumstances to allow for adaptation have never been more favorable. The onset of the digital domain has permitted companies, now more than ever, to adopt and use progressive platforms and systems to bridge online and offline business, and connect their people in a new, seemingly ladderless world.

Take, for example, the adidas Group Innovation Academy, a powerful online training community they introduced to more than 3,000 employees in North America earlier this year. The digital platform is designed to help build the foundation for a culture of innovation by educating and empowering its people with new business acumen.

Eventually it is just a digital tool, an enabler and amplifier for a spirit anyone can apply to his or her own business in many other ways, too.


Online there are no titles – the profile page of a participant in the adidas Group Innovation Academy displays only their name, their photo and a reflection of their contribution to the community by way of an “innovator score”. 


Participation has been purely voluntary, and behaviour including completion of weekly exercises and assignments as well as contributing discussion increases a user’s score online. The theory, then, is to eliminate assumptions about participation.

Along with generating thousands of new ideas and hosting equally as many rich, dynamic conversations around the adidas Group business, the Academy is serving double time as an incredibly important tool for professional development.

Professional development

Participation takes focus, time and energy, yes, but it has also inspired heightened levels of creativity and self-confidence as well as fostered a connected community of people who believe deeply in the notion they have a voice worth sharing on subjects near and far beyond the bounds of their everyday work.

Perhaps more importantly, they can relish in belonging to an organisational culture in which their colleagues are being newly empowered and encouraged to learn and listen all the time. The more we listen, the more we change what’s possible together.

If you want some tips on how to implement this and make those crucial steps towards increasing your personal development opportunities, read the original article on the adidas Group website.

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