Plante Moran’s 2014 Innovation Survey finds strong link between culture and innovation-generated revenue

Southfield, Mich. – Nov. 10, 2014 – “Culture eats strategy for lunch,” goes the old business adage. It also sets the table for innovation, according to findings released today in Plante Moran’s 2014 annual Innovation Survey.

For its fourth survey, the firm asked more than 400 Midwest organizations whether culture was a catalyst for innovation. According to respondents, the overwhelming majority of whom were C-suite executives in manufacturing or professional service firms, a strong, positive culture is paramount for successful innovation and increased revenue because it supports one of the main drivers of innovation: employees.

“What we found at the highest levels is a group of organizations we refer to as ‘elite innovators,’ ” said Gordon Krater, Plante Moran’s managing partner. “Organizations in this tier saw revenue increase by 30 percent or more in the past one to three years due to innovation, which they cite as a vital component of survival.

“They also have the highest markers for a great corporate culture. The connection between culture and innovation is one Plante Moran has subscribed to for decades. This year’s Innovation Survey findings provide data-driven affirmation.”

Corporate strategy and employees with ideas drive innovation
Two factors, corporate strategy and employees with ideas, were defined as the top drivers of innovation by elite organizations. In contrast, those not in the top tier reported overall that the customer was the number one driver of innovation. As Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Elite organizations acknowledge the customer is an important factor; however, they drive their innovation forward with a strong focus on corporate strategy and their employees. Specifically, these elite innovator organizations:
• Prioritize innovation strategy and leadership investment, with 60 percent having a research and development line item in their budget dedicated to innovation
• Used professional advice for space planning and design to promote a collaborative and open work environment and “free-range office mentality,” with easy access to executives
• Provide the tools, training and programs needed to support innovation; individuals challenge existing notions and create leading-edge ideas when given opportunities to learn and grow
When it comes to tapping employees for innovation, the elite tier had a striking advantage over organizations that didn’t increase revenue in the past three years due to innovation:
• 92 percent agreed employees consider it a great place to work – versus 63 percent in the no-innovation driven revenue group
• 96 percent said innovation is valued in the workplace – versus 46 percent in the no- innovation driven revenue group
• 96 percent said their employees genuinely believe the organization cares about them, their clients, customers and the community – versus 71 percent in the no- innovation driven revenue group
• 100 percent reported employees feel encouraged to come forward with new ideas – versus 71 percent in the no- innovation driven revenue group

Successful innovators cite recognition as the most effective form of incentive
Forty-two percent of elite organizations offer some form of incentive, such as recognition and monetary awards. These successful innovators are more likely to have a formal recognition program, including monthly or annual award ceremonies. Notably, when comparing this statistic with organizations that do not see increased revenue from innovation, only 13 percent offer employee incentives.

Innovation webinar to highlight three elite innovators
A complimentary Plante Moran webinar titled “Move Over, Culture. Make Way for Innovation” is scheduled for 2-3 p.m. on Dec. 5. It will feature three organizations known for their innovation and strong corporate cultures:
• Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System with CEO Nancy Schlichting,
• Napoleon, Ohio-based Automatic Feed with CFO Nathan Weaks
• Chicago-based ThoughtWorks with CEO Xia Guo

The trio will share best practices for creating a culture empowered to ignite innovation. Visit to learn more or register for the webinar.

Plante Moran donated $5 to Camp Invention for every survey submitted. Created by the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Camp Invention is the only nationally recognized summer program focused on creativity, innovation, real-world problem-solving and the spirit of invention. Camp Invention is a program of the nonprofit organization Invent Now and has a partnership with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

About Plante Moran
Celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2014, Plante Moran ( is one of the country’s largest certified public accounting and business advisory firms, providing clients with tax, audit, risk management, financial, technology, business consulting and wealth management services. Plante Moran has 22 offices and a staff of more than 2,000 professionals throughout Michigan, Ohio and Illinois, with international offices in Shanghai; Monterrey, Mexico; and Mumbai, India. Plante Moran has been recognized by a number of organizations, including FORTUNE magazine, as one of the country’s best places to work.