I was re-reading the post 11 Powerful Corporate Innovation Truths recently, where the CB Insights Chief Anand Sanwal talks about 8 Simple Ways to Look More Innovative. Its a brilliant piece and I get that its a bit of fun, but i thought i would delve deeper into the 8 highlighted methods and see if there really were some lessons to be learnt. This is what i found:
Corporate Innovation Strategy 1: Hire a Chef
Okay, so this is all about motivating your employees, giving them great food in the workplace and showing that you care for your employees. Google were among the first to go all out on top Chef’s and catering for their employees rumbling tummies in the best possible way – check out the following articles:
- Eric Dela Cruz: My Life As a Google Chef
- Some Google Chefs have gone on to start their own food delivery businesses
- Apparently lunch at Google HQ is Insanely Awesome
- Its not a new phenomena for Google though, even in the relatively early days of 2005 Google was looking for “culinary engineers“, which nicely leads to Corporate Innovation Strategy 2….
Corporate Innovation Strategy 2: Make Up Some Interesting Sounding Job Titles
This is probably the best one, and I’m sure these guys are brilliant but come on – Innovation Sherpa, Innovation Evangelist or wait for it, Innovation Guru – are these for real? Errrm, yeah – google any one of these titles and you will be surprised (or maybe not!) at these job titles. If you want to have a giggle, read the following:
- From – 23 super weird job titles you might find in your new office
- To – The Biggest Bullshit Job Titles in Tech – This is WELL WORTH A READ!!
- Plus some informtaive perspectives on how job titles can actually hinder innovation and productivity
Corporate Innovation Strategy 3: Kill the Cubicles
The idea here is to create an open, light, collaborative and informal environment where the CEO and senior management are at one, and sit, with their employees. Facebook, Apple and Google have been spearheading the open office approach. But its not a clear cut conclusion:
- The BBC puts forward both the pros and cons of open plan offices
- The Telegraph puts it more bluntly and say that Open plan offices suck!
- The Washington Post suggests that “Google got it wrong. The open-office trend is destroying the workplace”
- Some go further and explain how open plan offices kill productivity among some employee groups (e.g. introverts) and even make them ill
Corporate Innovation Strategy 4: Use Funky Phrases and Buzzwords
Are you tired of hearing about failure – “fail fast, fail often”, “embracing failure”, “fail better” or “fail forward”? Such phrases may sound good and make you feel innovative, but what do they really mean?
- The Economist speaks about the lessons that can be learnt from the “Fail often, fail well” mantra provided that companies manage the process
- Ken Tencer talks about “fail fast, fail often” probably being the stupidest business mantra of all time, is it just a load of hype?
- From a fintech perspective there is a lot of focus on blockchain right now, and David Birch demands a stand against all of the blockchain crap!
Senior management often hear such phrases after a visit to Silicon Valley, which takes us to corporate innovation strategy 5…
Corporate Innovation Strategy 5: Do the Pilgrimage
We hear a lot these days about CEO’s and their senior management teams visiting Silicon Valley. Is it just to be seen in Silicon Valley, wanting some of that start up “magic dust” to rub off on them, or is it something more strategic? Perhaps it is to see what is coming next from Silicon Valley and to get ahead of the potential disruption that maybe hitting a particular industry….?
- McKinsey explore: How you should tap into Silicon Valley ?
- The Washington Post describes Silicon Valley as a must see destination for world leaders
- Right now, and for obvious reasons, a lot of incumbent car manufacturers such as Ford and Daimler are visiting the Valley
- And of course banks are sending innovation gurus (see what i did there!) to Silicon Valley…
Corporate Innovation Strategy 6: Launch an Innovation Lab or Accelerator
In their guide to looking innovative CB Insights suggest “launch an innovation lab or accelerator – it doesnt matter what it does!” From a fintech and payments perspective this is absolutely huge. A quick google search for “fintech accelerator” or “fintech innovation lab” reveals the sheer number of hubs, labs and accelerator initiatives out there.
I found the Money Wiki list of fintech incubators and accelerator worldwide pretty useful. On a daily basis there is news of a bank moving to, or a new fintech innovation lab (that was yesterday) or accelerator launching in Silicon Valley. I suppose the point CB Insights are making is that these types of initiatives are great but must have a clear purpose and be part of a broader organisational strategy, rather than a sudden knee jerk reaction.
Corporate Innovation Strategy 7: Go Casual
Wearing jeans and laughing at people with suits on ain’t gonna cut it! Although, i like the fact that i don’t have to wear a suit, and sometimes i don’t even shave when I’m going to a conference. My excuse, “I’m being innovative”. Ha! Anyway, this seemingly simple policy isn’t as clear cut as you would imagine:
- 10 Big Businesses With Incredibly Casual Offices – there will be no suprises there..!
- And there are clearly some benefits of casual dress in the workplace, even if its just on a Friday
- When we ask the question – How Does Workplace Attire Affect Productivity?…
- ….the jury is still out – Is Casual Dress Killing Your Productivity At Work?
Corporate Innovation Strategy 8: Hire Some X-Googlers
There is a lot of tongue in cheek in this one from CB Insights – the guide says to look innovative “hire someone who wasn’t getting promoted from Google to head up your innovation effort. Tell everyone you meet, they’re from Google”.
I don’t want to get sued (!!), so I’m not going to put up any names. But just google (the irony) “hire apple executive” and “hire google executive” and you’ll see examples of top exec’s moving from the likes of Google and Apple to other organisations. Just the other day Forbes wrote about Wall Street poaching Silicon Valley talent. It seems that the ‘top talent’ is sometimes moving from Wall Street or incumbents to Silicon Valley and then back again. Interesting stuff!
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