Many business owners don’t understand the importance of innovation. They don’t see the need for a flourishing innovation culture. The truth is that without innovation, no company can thrive… At least not for the long haul.
The dynamic business environment we’re in today creates a constant struggle for survival. You need to fight tooth and nail to position yourself in the market – and while some companies succeed, many others fail.
What makes the difference? Why are some companies miles ahead of the others in their niche?
Many succeed because of their commitment to a culture of innovation. It’s often the primary factor driving growth and development. Innovation also helps create prosperity, and gives companies an edge over competitors.
Companies with an innovation culture allow employees to express themselves. They encourage out-of-the box thinking and finding (or creating) ways to maintain an advantage.
You often see this in the tech sector, but it happens in other industries as well. Beyond Google and Apple, Lego also has a culture of innovation that helps them stay on top. Many powerful companies leverage innovation culture to the fullest – and it shows in the place they hold in the market.
Establishing this type of environment is not as hard as you might think. By simply applying the four innovation lessons below, you can start making positive changes in your business.
Attract and Hire the Right People
Laszlo Bock, Senior VP of People Operations at Google, says:
“We hire for capability and learning ability, before we hire for expertise.”
You’re probably familiar with Google’s well-publicized interview questions and odd discussions, but you may not know why the company uses this model…
Google takes hiring the right people very seriously. The company doesn’t want employees who are just attracted to good salaries. Google wants thinkers and problem solvers… People who can learn new things and constantly improve.
Expertise is almost always important, but it can’t be your sole determining factor for hiring someone. With a robust screening process like Google uses, you can identify other vital qualities in people beyond their abilities on paper – like their personality and dedication to growth and innovation.
It’s also important to be honest about your expectations if you want to attract the right people. Let them know what to expect at your company, and assure them it’s beneficial to stay for the long term.
Focus on Collaboration
Financial software giant Intuit also has an innovation culture that has helped the company to thrive for years. Like Google, Intuit concentrates on bringing together the right people – people who love to think and brainstorm, who can adapt and evolve in the fast-paced work environment.
You see, people who can come together create great teams. This is one of the most crucial innovation lessons: one person can’t do it all. Any culture of innovation, in any company, requires collaboration among creatively minded individuals.
First, you bring together the right people for your company, then you provide ways for them to collaborate. Innovation comes from brainstorming ideas among people from different backgrounds.
Furthermore, innovation demands experimentation, so it’s important to encourage employees to work together, even if it means bringing together different departments and trying unconventional things. For the whole company to thrive, everyone must adopt the innovation culture.
Strike a Balance Between Structure and Flexibility
Apple’s innovation culture comes from a different place than Google or Intuit. If you’re familiar with the late co-founder Steve Jobs, you know that he could be a dictator at times… But that’s not to take anything away from his other attributes as a thinker, innovator, and visionary.
In many ways, Jobs built the culture of innovation and creativity that remains in the company. He saw it as a way to drive people to take right actions and adopt the right mindset.
But it was Tim Cook who truly refined the culture by finding a balance between structure and flexibility.
Cook introduced new rules for innovation, such as putting customers first, and as a result, apple’s products come from ideas intended to serve people.
He also understood that it’s critical to meet deadlines and develop new features. Most of all, he believes that an innovation culture needs flexibility… As such, he encourages employees to come up with fresh solutions to complex problems and “color outside the lines” when necessary.
This mentality allows people to come up with new ideas and discoveries without being stifled by strict policies. It’s not always easy to find the right balance, but it can be very rewarding once everything is in sync.
“Why?” is a proactive question. In the end, it’s curiosity that leads to creativity, which then leads to innovation. This is THE essential innovation lesson.
Take Lego as an example: the toy manufacturer went through its fair share of hard times, including a series of unsuccessful product launches, until they asked a certain question…
A large-scale study aimed at differences in female and male audiences gave Lego the answer. The study helped the company launch its “Lego Friends” line in 2011, a move turned their bottom line right around! Lego went from losing money in 2010 to a 15% year-over-year revenue increase from 2011 to 2016.
If you don’t ask why you need to do things differently, you won’t think about doing them at all. Sometimes you need to pivot to get an edge over your competition.
Remember: innovation also helps keep existing fans loyal.
Don’t Dismiss the Idea of Changing Your Company’s Culture
Without an innovation culture, it can be challenging to grow your business. The good news is that innovation is teachable. You can start by taking cues from companies who have been successful in the past, and those at the forefront of innovation today.
You can inspire your employees to adopt innovation and creativity as core values. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can neglect other important aspects of the business, such as meeting deadlines and generating customer demand… But it’s still worth giving your attention.
For all of this to happen, you must first adopt a set of general rules: avoid hiring the wrong people, encourage collaboration, create a culture of open communication, and adapt your company structure to make it more flexible.
If you want to learn more about pivoting your business through core values, we can help! Sign up for more business coaching lessons at predictableprofits.com. You’ll discover how to perfect your growth strategy and reach new levels of success.