I recently had the pleasure of witnessing a presentation from Alexis Giles, Head of New Business Development at Google, as to how the company promotes entrepreneurial thinking and creativity within the business. The content kept the audience captivated by it's simplicity and common sense approach yet at the same time highlighted how few businesses outside of California's silicon valley have the courage and forsight to adopt such an approach. I have tried to do the topics justice in the following short messages and I hope some of you might be brave enough to adopt some of the learnings.
- Ideas come from everywhere and everybody. Senior staff do not have a monopoly on idea creation.How often do you actively encourage and reward all members of staff to contribute to the forward strategy of the business?
- Share everything you can. Open forums for free information. Credit is given where it is due. Free from politics. £100 Peer bonuses available monthly to all staff to be given to any fellow team member they consider worthy of receiving recognition on a customer service or profit generating work. Many staff awards programmes in addition to this.
- Get brilliant people when recruiting. Look for long term retention. Friday perks such as free beer or wine given in the afternoon around 4pm. 3 Free meals per day. Breakfast from 7am, lunch and dinner at 6.30pm. Many staff stay and work 12 hour days as a result. Free micro kitchens including Coca Cola and M&Ms at various sites around the offices! Staff go through up to a dozen interviews to ensure they are a good fit with the company culture as well as having the necessary academic credentials.
- Choose your dreams. 20% time is available to undertake creative projects for the good of the firm. Wide licence to play fuels innovation. Time for product innovation and incubation.
- Innovation not instant perfection. Launch it even if it’s imperfect and let it evolve. Just ship it. Madonna theory of constant change.
- Data is Apolitical. Judge ideas by facts. Use research data then “eat your own dog food”. In other words try before you launch.
- Creativity loves constraint. Adapt a problem solving culture.
- Always prioritise users over money as money follows users. This is huge as many firms try to make cash from day one of a product or service launch which in many cases is totally unrealistic. Following their purchase of YouTube they drove users well before they tried to monetise the service.
- Don’t kill projects, just morph them. Regroup and rethink. If it was worth investing all the time and effort to get it to this stage then it must be worth something.
- Finally, remember anything is possible - think like an American! Forget British negativity and always look for a positive angle.
Whilst Alex confirmed that they do have an office full of lava lamps and travel to internal meetings on a segway, more importantly there is very little heirarchy involved and board members share communal office and dining space with junior staff which promotes cross functional knowledge and ideas throughout the organisation. The attitude is one of there is no such word as 'can't'. How does this compare with your organisation?