In a world where entire industries can change overnight, it's critical that organizations remain agile and possess the ability to innovate. Google describes innovation as, "the process of taking new ideas, building and testing them, and then implementing them." 

The capacity to challenge the status quo and think outside the box isn't just a culture booster. It's also linked to value creation. A study published in MIT Sloan Management Review showed a significant positive correlation between an organization's ability to generate new ideas and innovate, and its profitability. 

Unfortunately, there is no formula or process for guaranteed innovation. It's unique from organization to organization, and it happens in a myriad of different ways. However, it doesn't happen without some form of investment either. To help spur idea creation in your organization you have to create the right conditions.

Through its re:work site, Google shared how it inspires its employees to be innovative every day. I've added my personal perspective on each. 

1. It communicates a clear vision. 

It's critical that every employee knows where the organization is heading. When employees understand the big picture, they have a goal to work towards. A vision statement provides employees with direction and acts as a lens for new ideas. 

A vision statement may seem arbitrary, but when its effectively communicated and reinforced, it feels less like a formality and more like a purpose. Great visions provide employees with a set of values to strive towards, a mission to focus on, and a filter to prioritize work. 

2. It gives employees autonomy. 

Give employees the freedom to define their own work as much as possible. Job crafting, in other words, is when an employee feels empowered to customize their job by actively altering the meaning behind tasks and interactions with others at work. 

Research from the University of Michigan shows that job-crafting (making your job your own) results in increased levels of engagement and job fulfillment.

3. It looks for those with high amounts of intrinsic motivation. 

It's tough to inspire someone who isn't self-motivated. Google likes to hire employees who are naturally curious and love to learn. 

This growth mindset is reinforced and encourage throughout a Googler's career. A growth mindset--a term coined by Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, is a simple belief that intelligence and talents can be cultivated over time. More importantly, through the process of making and learning from mistakes. 

4. It provides a sense of psychological safety by encouraging risk-taking. 

A team's ability to take risks is directly correlated with its ability to learn. Learning leads to enhanced effectiveness and growth. However, without a feeling of psychological safety, a team's willingness to take interpersonal risks diminishes and members withhold information and questions beneficial to the team. 

Instead, Google fosters an environment where employees are praised for taking risks. If you don't, the fear of repercussions will scare employees into operating within the confinements of the status-quo.

5. It increases connectivity. 

Encourage employees to work together. Through collaboration, connections are created, bonds are formed, and a collective intelligence emerges. When you collaborate with others, you utilize the groups' multiple perspectives, leverage experience, and boost diversity of thought.

All in all, you create better, more innovative solutions by tackling problems and challenges from varying angles. 

Innovation is critical to your business's continued success. But, it can't be forced. Considering using these five attributes from Google to create and nurture an environment conducive to innovation. 

Published on: Oct 23, 2018