5 Traits of Truly Innovative Companies - InformationWeek

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1/8/2018
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Lisa Morgan
Lisa Morgan
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5 Traits of Truly Innovative Companies

When most people think about innovation, they think of companies like Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Google because those companies appear to have some kind of magic that other organizations lack. If your company wants to make lightning strike repeatedly, consider these points.
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Cultivate a Culture of Innovation

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

The difference between companies that say they're innovative and companies that are innovative is action. Truly innovative companies foster a culture of innovation that encourages and rewards ideas from everywhere in the organization. Atlassian, an enterprise software company, is an example.   

Atlassian has developed many products that have become defacto standards for software development teams. The company allows its employees to spend 20% of their time innovating, whether that's one day per week or an entire week out of every few weeks. In addition, employees are encouraged to present their ideas at town hall meetings, and they recognize each other through "kudos" votes that the company acknowledges by giving a gift to the person who received the kudos. Perhaps the most interesting and unique thing about Atlassian's commitment to innovation is the willingness to offer innovators an equity stake in an idea that's eventually commercialized.

"We're restless. A little bit of restlessness if healthy because if we accept everything we've got today and like it too much, we'll get complacent," said the company's Dom Price. "We see micro levels of innovation in every part of our business every day.  We have a culture of exploration and experimentation and share lessons learned from those experiments, half of which fail." 

But if employees spend 20% of their time on innovation and half of the experiments fail, where's the ROI?  Most business leaders would ask that question, but Price views things differently. He thinks companies would be better served if their leaders' definition of "ROI" was return on innovation rather than return on investment.

Lisa Morgan is a freelance writer who covers big data and BI for InformationWeek. She has contributed articles, reports, and other types of content to various publications and sites ranging from SD Times to the Economist Intelligent Unit. Frequent areas of coverage include ... View Full Bio

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