A strong, positive culture is essential for achieving successful innovation and increased revenue, according to a new survey by the accounting firm Plante Moran.

The firm polled executives from more than 400 organizations in the Midwest, primarily in manufacturing and professional services, asking them whether culture provides a catalyst for innovation.

“What we found at the highest levels is a group of organizations we refer to as ‘elite innovators,’” said Plante Moran managing partner Gordon Krater in a statement. “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.”

Two factors—corporate strategy and employees with ideas—were identified 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.

Elite organizations prioritize innovation strategy and leadership investment, with 60 percent having a research and development line item in their budget dedicated to innovation. They tended to use professional advice for space planning and design to promote a collaborative and open work environment and a “free-range office mentality,” offering easier access to executives. Plante Moran found that such businesses also provide the tools, training and programs needed to support innovation, so individuals can challenge the status quo and generate fresh ideas when given opportunities to learn and grow.

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