You've probably heard the saying "if you're not changing, you're dying." In today's marketplace, with the rapid advancement of technology, greater access to new data, and ever-changing customer expectations, it couldn't be more true.

Companies of all types and sizes therefore are turning to innovation as the answer to how to keep up.

The innovation engine has many moving parts, however, and the parts are assembled differently for each organization.

However, there is one overriding commonality among companies that have found a way to consistently deliver great ideas and bring them to life. Those companies build a spirit of innovation into the heart of company culture. The established set of values, norms, and behaviors of leaders and employees create a common mindset and even an expectation to think creatively, be different, and always push to find a better way.

Here are six key organizational traits required to build a culture of innovation.

1. Unrelenting customer focus

Organizations with a sharp customer focus have a deeper understanding of customer needs and pain points. This knowledge inspires a more urgent and creative approach to finding the best solutions because there is greater clarity on the effect and value that will be delivered once the solution is in place. Staying completely "dialed in" to your customers provides a continuous source of motivation for problem solving and continuous improvement.

2. A passion to serve

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image of Jeff Sierra

Jeff Sierra, a marketing strategist and technologist, is president and CMO of Mind Fuel, a provider of marketing strategy and business planning solutions.

LinkedIn: Jeff Sierra