What makes us innovate?
The Wikipedia definition says it all: Innovation is the application of new solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulate needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes,services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments and society. The term innovation can be defined as something original and new that "breaks in to" the market or into society. One usually associates to new phenomena that are important in some way.
Innovation can sometimes be used too liberally and other times, not enough. At Marketing Eye in Atlanta it is the backbone of our business.
We chose to be located in "startup central" at Atlanta Technology Village, so that we can continue our drive to be the most innovative small business marketing firm in the world. While it is ok to say this, its another thing to make it happen and to be able to stand up and say it like you mean it.
Our choice to have a loose working environment, where people can work from breakout rooms, coffee shops, home or fairly much wherever they want, is favored by the team, however, they seem to prefer to work together in the office chatting away throughout the day and interacting on all levels.
No-one is afraid to say what they want to say, or to stand up for what they believe in. They hold each other to account and are the first to say, "hey buddy, step it up!".
Deadlines are stressful, like in any work environment, but when they are finished, everyone just has a good laugh and pokes fun at the people that may not have handled the stress so well - namely me.
While ping-pong is on offer, they prefer really to hang out and talk about life, dreams and what they believe in. One thing consistent with every team member is that they believe in the brand Markeitng Eye. They are great ambassadors and are continually pushing our barrel to friends, people they meet in the street and online.
How do you encourage innovation in your business?1. Foster a "think outside the box mentality" in your team. Allow them the freedom to think obscurely and put it out there some times even though it may not be something that will be taken on board. Eventually, something remarkably innovative will come from the most unusual places or people.
2. Be playful: It's a serious world we live in and the need to make a profit and run a sustainable business often means that we don't laugh enough. There is a trend towards "happiness in the workforce" and while that is great to foster, it also is important that everyone be aware that there is also a serious side to business and both in moderation equals a winning formula.
3. Have a deeply ingrained vision: Make sure everyone knows your company vision and believes in it as much as you do.
4. Be culturally aware: Create a fun, relaxed, open plan environment and focus on ensuring that your staff are motivated, productive and happy. If your culture is going side-ways, identify it quickly and make changes by re-engaging your team.
5. Vote "off the island": If people are poison, not team players, and in general are not a good fit for your business, allow others to participate in "voting off the island" making everyone accountable to everyone else. A flat management structure is conducive to this.
6. Team approach: It's all or nothing - and there is no in between. If everyone works as a team, your "ship" will move forward and be able to navigate the waters that lie ahead.
7. Encourage "openness" without reprecussion. Let them say what they think without sugar coating it. Sometimes it will just be an act of emotion or perhaps there is some real meaning to it. If people have freedom to be open about their feelings and thoughts, each person will know each other better and be more connected when working out strengths and weaknesses.
8. Recruit and reward innovative people: Ensure that innovative people are rewarded for what they bring to the table. They deserve it!