I + A = G, Your Formula for Success

“Only companies that can consistently bring imaginative, value-added products, services and value propositions to market will survive and grow in our rapidly-changing economy.”

–       Robert B. Tucker, Driving Growth Through Innovation

The current issue of Fast Company features the world’s 50 most innovative companies along with a Top 10 list of innovative companies in 21 key industries and 4 major emerging markets. The companies listed had all exhibited to some degree or another some level of creative thinking, implemented ingenious processes and offered intelligent products or services.

To no one’s surprise the list included Apple at number one, along with Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Groupon, Evernote as well as some more mainstream companies like AT&T, Nissan, IBM, Intel, Dow Chemical and Boeing. The list was so varied, from size of company to market sector to time in business, thus proving that innovation can be found anywhere.

In looking over the list I wondered if there was one common denominator, one thing that all the listed companies possessed regardless of size, market sector or time in business. I decided that every company has a culture of innovation, and without that culture, none of the companies would have made the list, some would no longer be in business or would never have existed at all.

If you are not sure if your company has a culture of innovation here are some questions you could ask.

–      How would you describe your organizations culture: its values, beliefs, behaviors?

–      What stories get told around your firm that encourage innovative behavior, and what stories get told that do the opposite?

–      How big a gap exists between what you believe to be your firm’s optimal climate for innovation and the one that exists presently?

–      Does your business unit or company have the right balance of people at all levels of the organization to ensure a culture open to innovation?

–      What barriers are responsible for blocking increased innovative output?

–      Do you have enough people who can champion ideas, who can lead teams to come forth with new products, services and business models?

Once you have the answers to these questions and think that you understand your company’s culture, you can consider the next step on your road to being an innovative company, bringing on innovative talent.

Here are some of the characteristics that innovative people seem to have in common. Innovative people:

–      Are creative: they ask questions constantly, like looking for solutions, exploring new areas

–      Have broad interests: are eager to learn, like exploring ideas with others, have hobbies, are multidisciplinary

–      Are problem solvers: have an experimental style, “do it first, explain later,” are not afraid to make mistakes, take multiple approaches to problems, willing to do the unexpected

–      Are self-motivated/energized: are self-starters/driven, results oriented, have a passion about what they do, take initiative

–      Have a strong work ethic: are committed, work in cycles, flexible, not structured work habits, are tenacious

–      Are resourceful: are able to network to solve problems and get information, are able to get things done through others. 

When we engage with our clients to provide some level of managed recruiting service we are always looking for talent that has the right combination of experience, attitude and ability and would be comfortable in the client’s environment, would fit the culture. Trying to put an innovative type candidate into a company that is not open to innovation is akin to putting a square peg in a round hole. It just won’t work.

Answering the questions about your company’s culture, deciding that your company would want to become more innovative and then putting in place a process that encourages attracting the innovative talent that you will need is not an easy task. It will take work. But think of the pay off, and the idea that someday your company could be on a similar list. Life should be so good!

So what about the formula, I + A = G?  It is Innovation + Action = Growth and thanks to John Jantsch with Duct Tape Marketing for sending it on.

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