Innovation, Character, and Culture
What does 'innovation' mean to you? Seriously, what comes to mind when you hear that word?
Working for 2 large corporations has opened my eyes to the many definitions people give these 10 letters. A lot of people think innovative companies are filled with robots, touch-screens, mobile apps, and the latest technologies that most folks have never heard of. Even when these things have nothing to do with the company's actual business and provide no real-world enhancement to the organization. I've seen companies form teams around this thinking and throw money at it like it's going out of style. And the poor folks tasked with this misled idea continually search for the latest greatest answer to nobody's problem.
Does being innovative mean "actively seeking out the newest thing since sliced bread"?
Being a User Experience (UX) Designer, I like to simplify things. So let's do that, what is 'innovation' in it's most basic, fundamental explanation? What does it mean to 'innovate' in the real world, in our daily mundane (or not) lives?
My most elementary answer is: to do every little thing with a passion to do it better than it has previously been done.
Is it that simple? I think so. Let's think about companies and people we consider innovative and successful. Does this definition fit? It fits Apple. It's very clear that the employees of Apple aren't concerned with money, critics, or following the crowd. Their singular focus is: making the very best products they possibly can, inside and out. Then, they make them even better.
It fits Amazon. Amazon has made online shopping enjoyable and easy by doing it better than anyone else. By removing the hurdles and displeasures of online shopping, such as: waiting for weeks to receive your order.
It fits Dyson. They take the appliances we use every day, products with limitations and unresolved issues, and they make them better. They remove the issues and limitations and by doing so, create a trust between them and their customers. I'll never even think of buying another brand of vacuum. It's simply because their's works and makes my life easier and more enjoyable. Cleaning the house is now fast and simple. They allow me to spend more time doing meaningful things.
What is the answer?
Companies like Apple, Amazon, & Dyson don't assign teams with discovering innovative ideas to then share with everyone else. No, in contrast, their entire company makeup consists of people who care about doing things better.
Innovation stems from good character. It's about concern for the little things and the large.
When leadership is instilled with this passion, this core value and focus, it trickles down, creating a culture of INNOVATION.
Think about this.
- doesn't need approval and finds ways around red tape
- is fueled by creativity
- never says "it's good enough" or "that's not my job"
- answers the problem at hand
- never thinks 'that can't be done'
- thinks positively
- isn't afraid to do something amazing even if no one else will ever notice