By J.T. Ripton
“I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game—it is the game.” – Lou Gerstner, CEO of IBM
Too often businesses focus on hard-line analytics, like process, measurement, and production, forgetting to consider important emotive factors, such as creativity, passion, curiosity, and imagination. Without a focus on an innovative company atmosphere, businesses are not able to take full advantage of employee capabilities or move quickly to operate at the market top.
Take Failure in Stride
Most of us realize the danger in focusing on our failure, but we don’t know how to fail well. Many professionals avoid failure at all costs. According to some of the top companies operating, this is a travesty. Facebook, for example, doesn’t criticize their employees for failing, but they do chastise employees who aren’t trying hard enough. Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg works with the motto of “moving fast and breaking things,” realizing a free attempt process is vital to innovation and muzzling creativity in an attempt to avoid a poor result will only hinder progress.
Failure is a normal part of trying the ideas never done before—not every new idea will succeed. Getting caught up in that failure is a waste of time and energy. Avoiding failure means avoiding the aggressive attempts to consider and implement something new that might flop miserably or result in wild success. Innovative companies have learned to accept failure and “fail forward” (not backwards), moving on with new ideas that became reality and finding proven success with the help of companies like World Patent Marketing.
Pausing to consider failure, can actually cause failure. The leaders of innovative companies, like Facebook, often realize that quick action is important for remaining an industry leader. Committee decision-making and top-down leadership are two formulas that can clog the process. If leaders want to enable their company to move quickly, they must empower trusted employees across the boards to make the calls and act quickly in the best interest of the company.
Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts has expanded rapidly from a single hotel in Toronto to over 90 globally located properties and has focused on transforming the hospitality industry. The company has trained employees to identify the “just do it” ideas that need to be executed quickly, without supervision, as opposed to ideas that need more input from others in the company.
Collaboration is a buzzword today that many companies strive to pursue. However, collaboration doesn’t occur unless it is cultivated and valued in a company. The collaboration process utilizes the uniqueness of team members to find new solutions and form creative ideas. In striving for collaboration, Google has created offices and recreational areas where employees from every department are encouraged to talk about both work and play.
Remember What (Else) Matters
The greatest companies are often very mindful of the lives their employees live outside of work. Google has become well known as one of the best work environments, producing innovative results from empowered employees. This year, Google has increased maternity and paternity leave, while improving their onsite daycare. Google understands that families need to be strong; parents will be more prepared to work when they aren’t forced to choose between their loved ones and their career.
While you might think a company like Google is too big to be concerned with the little guy, it has transformed the company environment by focusing directly on the input from the individuals that form teams there. Google purposely hires a wide range of diverse individuals with many talents and interests, allowing them to ask questions and prompting discussion with an open culture. Toyota and Canon look for continuous improvement by requiring employees to write down at least one suggestion per week all year long (60–70 suggestions per employee) on small improvements that can be made to better the company.
Your company might be smaller or operate in a less-creative industry than many of these companies mentioned, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take notes from their methods of operation. These common factors are part of what has made them successful and this pattern stays consistent across the board.
JT Ripton is a freelance writer out of Tampa, who focuses on topics relating to business and technology. Follow him at @JTRipton.