Using Video as a Catalyst for Organizational Change and Innovation

Videos are not just for recording a day at the park. Businesses are using them to transform their organization's culture and generate employee and supplier innovation.

— By Esther Burt

Videos are taking the internet by storm. Pull up any social media account or organizational website, and there will be a video to watch. It is the ideal communication tool in a society where watching short bits of easy-to-access information are preferred over reading text. Driven by a generation of digital natives, videos offer information on just about every topic.

Now, organizations are embracing videos as a tool for changing or strengthening their culture, engaging employees, and generating supplier innovation. The videos offer business leaders a means of conveying any type of information, including training employees and suppliers, requesting innovative ideas, and reinforcing the mission and values to strengthen the corporate culture.

Using the Right Language
An organization's culture is everything today. It impacts employee relationships with managers, job satisfaction, turnover and job performance. Culture impacts brand reputation, market performance and competitiveness. As if that is not enough, an organization's culture directly impacts the ability to attract qualified, innovative and diverse suppliers.

Given its many impacts, it is sometimes necessary to transform the culture as market dynamics change or when the current culture does not have desired qualities or fails to garner the many positive impacts it should produce. For example, the culture is not producing innovation, engaging employees in the creative process, or achieving true inclusion of diverse people and suppliers.

Changing a culture is difficult, particularly when it is necessary to move to a more dynamic, flexible and inclusive culture. It takes persistent messaging of the mission, values and goals, coupled with accountability.

Many technologies are used today, but one of the most pervasive is video. A variety of short to long videos are popping up everywhere online and on mobile phones. Video is an excellent tool for executing strategies intended to change a culture or promote innovation.

To change a culture, the first step is reaching out to all employees, from top to bottom, and sharing information about the company's philosophy. To engage employees in the change process, management must match the values of the new generations of workers that are rapidly becoming the largest employee group.

Explaining the organization's philosophy, mission, and values lets employees know that management sees the employee as partners in business success and the ability of the company to reach goals. Unlike text, videos also speak to younger generations of workers in the language they best understand. Giving employees access to information is a key strategy for employee engagement.

Keep It Short and Informative
Videos, accessible on computers and smartphones, can rapidly convey information on any topic. In most cases, the video needs to be short, concisely offering information. A series of short videos is usually better than one long one. It is the way of the world today. The video should be informative and tell a story when the goal is to influence people.

Many companies use videos to promote excellent customer services, attract job candidates that are good fits for the culture desired, instruct on policies, explain benefits, promote teamwork, and sometimes just say "thank you" for helping make a company successful. All of these efforts support cultural change.

One of the ways employers are using videos as engagement tools is to inform employees on the bigger picture. They explain product or service features, customer needs and how the company meets those needs, industry standards and values, and marketplace dynamics. This approach enables employees to understand how their job performance supports corporate goals.

Culture Change Through Storytelling
Starbucks developed a series of videos that follow the growth and advancement of company interns, showing how the employment process works and how people can develop their personal value. Vistaprint uses videos to highlight their team and a culture of collaboration and mutual support among employees. The videos share stories of actual events and activities that make employees feel welcomed. Effective videos often share a story that employees or customers can relate to.

Promoting innovation is critical to business success, and videos can play an important role in this area, too. When directed at employees, they can share innovations inspired by coworkers, present innovation competitions, or inspire viewers to share their ideas by explaining how to submit their ideas.

Videos are versatile, which is another reason they are increasingly used.

Building Supplier Relationships With Videos
On the supplier side, videos can promote collaborative innovation by offering development opportunities and by strengthening supplier engagement. Every business should be asking: Do suppliers know the company is seeking new ideas and supplier partnerships? Toyota USA has its own YouTube channel with videos sorted by topic, like cars and vans, but it also offers information about product innovations. Many companies use videos to explain the supplier portal registration process, company mission and values, organizational structure, and policies and procedures.

Once a supplier registers, the supplier has access to regularly posted videos that explain specific needs or problems needed solving, inviting suppliers to present new ideas. This is the approach Marathon Oil uses (see There is a set of short instructional videos to help suppliers align with the corporation's mission and values. The goal is to develop a trusting relationship while encouraging innovation.

Another strategy is for corporations to issue an innovative challenge that is explained in a video available to anyone online. Suppliers respond by presenting their problem solution. The responses can be made public or kept confidential. Balfour Beatty regularly posts videos (see, and many explain innovations the company has instituted. The videos offer an excellent overview of what the company considers important and the type of innovations it embraces. Suppliers who have ideas to present can then complete a very short "Supplier Innovation Gateway Form" that allows new and existing suppliers to submit innovative products, materials and services for consideration.

Videos are technology that works for consumers, suppliers and businesses alike. They can be tutorials, marketing tools, invitations for supplier innovations, employee engagement tools and brand strengtheners. The videos can be posted on external websites or intranets, or embedded as links in social media accounts like Facebook or LinkedIn.

The only surprising thing is that it took so long for videos to become so pervasive.