Creating a Sustainable Culture of Innovation

This article appeared in 2024 MMA Operations Conference event program. Learn more about MMA events.

Innovation. What a loaded word. At times it can cripple you and at times it can fuel you. There aren’t many words that can feel as powerful and two-sided, especially as it relates to our career, our success, our cultures, and our future.

Over the last several years, innovation has become much more prevalent and commonly used in the manufacturing industry. Suddenly there are job titles with it, departments with it, and experts in it. How can one word make or break you? I can’t imagine...not being considered innovative! Jokes aside, there is truth behind these feelings, and the truth is much simpler than you may imagine.

Innovation is not a word meant only for the greatest and brightest minds nor is it reserved for job titles and departments. Innovation is something that lives and breathes within each of us. It’s time to recognize and bring to light that the “soft” and “empathic” skills we have historically suppressed in the manufacturing industry are, indeed, what fuels innovation.

Interactive Training Systems, the company I proudly operate alongside our President, Doug Maguffee, is celebrating its 56th anniversary this year. Not only did our founders believe in and appreciate the successes and failures of their workforce, Doug and I make it an absolute priority. We are intentional and purposeful leaders, recognizing innovation is something we have, not something we are trying to chase.

Fostering and cultivating a culture where innovation is simply woven into the fabric of who you are and how you operate does not happen accidentally. Here are a few simple points to consider, when determining how to not just create a culture of innovation but make it sustainable:

Harness your resilience and encourage others to do the same. Everyone has resilience, it is formed at a very early age. Some outwardly show their resilience more than others but it’s important to recognize each person in your organization is capable of harnessing it. How does this relate to innovation? Innovation cannot happen without failure, and we must be prepared to use failure to fuel innovation rather than stop it. Instead of thinking of failure as a letdown, think of it as an opportunity to innovate forward. That, my friend, is resilience in action.

Embrace change. Did you know, innovation cannot happen without change? This one is easy. Stop fearing change and embrace the opportunity to innovate. Not just on the big things but the small, daily things too. Change. Is. Good.

Choose the challenge. There are no shortcuts in life worth taking. I often tell that to my 13-year-old son. Always choose the right way and the hard way. It is a sure-fire way to fail in some capacity, and the only way out is to change gears, and innovate.

Can you see what I see now? Can you see how we can lead, encourage, and be self-aware enough to create cultures where innovation is a part of our DNA? It really isn’t hard, in fact, it can be effortless.

When our leaders and organizations can feel that innovation is truly more about who we are, how we mitigate issues, and how we improve processes than creating some wild new tech, idea, or product, it is there they will feel what sustainable innovation is all about — and — it is there where the biggest and brightest ideas will form.

About the Author

Amy SeymourAmy Seymour is Interactive Training Systems’ Director of Operations. She may be reached at

Amy Seymour was a speaker at the 2024 MMA Operations Conference. Learn more about MMA events.

MMA LogoInteractive Training Systems Inc. is an MMA Industry Member and has been an MMA member company since February 2023. Visit online: