Winning culture drives innovation

  • Published
  • By Col. Trina Hood
  • 301st Fighter Wing

Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship whether personal or professional. Organizations lacking trust, either up or down the chain of command, are destined to struggle and/or fail. Those organizational cultures stifle innovation and creativity because members don’t feel safe to make mistakes or try something new. Conversely, organizations where there is mutual trust between leaders and members, thrive. These organizations have a culture of trust, shared mission and purpose, effective communication, and empowerment.

So what is organizational culture anyway? Merriam-Webster defines it as, "The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization." Basically, culture is the personality of an organization. We have lots of personalities in the 301 FW and that’s a good thing. It would be really boring if we were all alike. But, we do have a shared purpose and mission, to Train and Deploy Combat Ready Airmen. We have different ideas on how to best accomplish that mission and each organization within the wing has their own culture, or personality.

The best organizational cultures are often led by selfless and bold leaders who are not afraid to take calculated risks to improve their organization and achieve their goals. Members in these organizations watch their leaders take risks and are motivated to think outside the box without fear of being whacked over the head – they trust their leaders. Trust inspires a spirit of teamwork within the organization to tackle tough problems and find enduring solutions. Members are less concerned about making mistakes or pitching a new idea when they have a supportive team and engaged leaders. My philosophy is, if you mess up – fess up. Take your debriefing to heart, apply the lesson(s) you learned and don’t make the same mistake again.

Why should we care about a culture of trust that drives innovation? Our Senior DoD and Air Force leaders know that we cannot defeat today’s adversary without "rapid and meaningful innovation." Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein, stated the Air Force must be more "strategically agile" to adapt to the rapidly evolving and increasingly complex environment of future conflict." Keep in mind that innovation isn’t limited to technological development, it also encompasses new ideas, methods, and devices. Additionally, one of the top priorities of the Chief of Air Force Reserve and Commander, Air Force Reserve Command Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee is to "Reform the Organization" by utilizing best practices and creating "the culture required to build a more lethal and ready force." So, if you want get in on innovative advances to ensure the Air Force continues to Fly, Fight and Win, start building a culture of trust within your organization. The winning culture you cultivate today will ensure your organization’s success for years to come.

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