- Sat, April 30 2011
- Filed under: Nonprofit leadership
A big topic at the Fast Company Innovation Uncensored Conference in New York this week was how to foster innovation at your workplace. Thought leaders from JetBlue, Hulu, Pepsi, OWN/Oprah Winfrey Network, DonorsChoose and even Jared Leto weighed in on the topic. Here were some of the more helpful themes:
1. Take the time to define for everyone in your office the kind of organization you want to be, or else it will just happen to you by default. For example, Hulu defines itself as a customer company, not a media company, which affects how to approaches just about everything. Their aim is to create a service that “users, advertisers and content owners love.” They designed Hulu to work for all of those audiences - rather than to just disseminate videos.
2. Have a few simple shared values that serve as everyone’s North Star. For example, JetBlue stands for safety first, as well as caring, passion, integrity and fun. This permeates the culture (though as JetBlue said themselves, one flight attendant managed to violate all of them.) When you have these, you can empower people throughout the organization to make decisions as long as they follow the values.
3. While everyone needs formal processes in the workplace, needless bureaucracy squelches creativity and discourages innovation. At Hulu, staff raise their hand if they see signs of bad bureaucracy.
4. Stories are a great way to do just about everything: inspire, communicate and bring people together. “The center of our culture is narrative,” as FX executive John Landgraf put it.
5. Be a dreamer. Build a company on what you hope to happen, not what you fear will happen. It works better.
For more on nonprofit innovation, check out this month’s blog carnival at RAD.