As companies increasingly look to drive innovative and intrepreneurial behavior with their employees, they are examining ways to recognize and reward around these efforts. Both Shannon Lucas (Director of Innovation, Vodafone Global Enterprise) and Anthony Ferrier (CEO, Culturevate) have deep levels of insight to this area of growing importance to innovation and HR leaders.
In our first session of INNOVIEW (our new interview series, in partnership with FEI and Culturevate), Scott Millward (Chief Learning Officer, Farmers Insurance) and Anthony Ferrier (CEO, Culturevate) talk about Innovation Culture and how learning and HR professionals are playing a more active role within the innovation space.
Dharmesh Shah, co-founder and CTO at HubSpot, lists some of the most common excuses early-stage companies give when asked why conscious effort isn’t put into developing culture. Entrepreneurs often point to office parties and perks, or the supposed importance of their mission as their startup’s culture. They also claim culture grows organically, or that they just don’t have time, Shah says.
A couple of years ago the Chief Innovation Officer was just one in a long list of senseless job titles specifically designed to dress up traditional roles. We saw lifeguards become ‘wet leisure assistants’ and binmen turn into ‘waste management and disposal technicians’. While most are easy to see through, the CINO has become a bonafide job title, and a position many leading companies have adopted.
Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit and chair of its executive committee, talks about how a company that encourages experimentation will be guided by the best outcomes, as opposed to the whims of those with the most power and seniority. A leader’s role, Cook says, is to define the vision, set up a system of experimentation and savor the surprises.
Entrepreneur and investor Chinedu Echeruo urges aspiring entrepreneurs to not look for ideas, but to discover new ideas through activity and action. Rather than seeing creativity as an abstract concept, Echeruo argues that it be used as a tool to unleash value in the world.
William Marshall, co-founder and CEO of Planet Labs, says that starting a business should not be the first response to every pain point in the market, but decided only after it becomes clear that there is no other solution. Marshall also describes how passion and a breakthrough idea, not business skills or an MBA, are central to entrepreneurship.
Stanford Prof. Tina Seelig discusses how motivation and experimentation are essential for creativity. She also shows how true problem-solvers and entrepreneurs utilize whatever is within reach to overcome obstacles, and then quickly prototype, rather than let challenges stand in the way of a solution.
Publisher and entrepreneur Tim O’Reilly offers insights and inspirations that have influenced the successful growth of his business. O’Reilly also challenges companies to think in terms of the kinds of transformations and results they can help customers achieve.
Skybox Imaging Co-Founder Ching-Yu Hu eloquently talks about the challenges of trying to scale culture in a growing organization. Hu also touches on how the company aims to bring a Silicon Valley, agile approach to satellite development that differs from traditional aerospace companies.
Palantir Co-Founder Stephen Cohen articulates how to approach a deeper understanding between knowledge and data that is quantitative versus qualitative in nature. Recognizing the depth and subtlety of the qualitative domain, in contrast to what is precisely definable, says Cohen, provides scientists and entrepreneurs with a new and valuable perspective on solving problems.
Enterprise business buyers fundamentally demand choice, says Cindy Padnos, managing partner of Illuminate Ventures. According to Padnos, this insight, along with thorough data, support her firm’s passion for focusing on investments in enterprise software and cloud computing, instead of in the consumer internet space.
Believing that we are exiting the “dark ages of computing,” investor and entrepreneur John Lilly issues a challenge to technology entrepreneurs in this era of chaos: What will you create in the white space of opportunity that lies ahead?
It’s better for a CEO to describe success than to prescribe the exact methods employees must use to achieve it. This is done, says Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig, by establishing a company vision and sharing it often with employees. He advises to not think in terms of business models, but rather to reframe the questions to ensure your company is thinking big enough. Then, hire people willing to be part of a team that will be integral to this vision.
Both the enterprise and the end users are better served by a culture that revolves around rewarding great ideas, rather than the self-promotion of getting others to acknowledge the contributions of an individual. Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Search Products & User Experience at Google, believes that if you fill a room with smart people and give them access to information, brilliant ideas will flourish, and the need for a strict management hierarchy dissolves. A platform for the free-form sharing of ideas promotes an open culture and a flat organization.