What Alphabet Can Teach Us About Innovation
A few disclaimers before I begin:
This blog post is not about the alphabet (abc etc.), but rather Alphabet, Google's new parent company.
Now that I got those out of the way, I can share a few of my thoughts. Simply put, companies that don't innovate will die. That may seem a little harsh, but it's the truth. The world we live in requires businesses to be creative and to constantly improve their products and services.
If your company isn't a 100% innovative yet, it's ok. Although it takes a lot of work to develop such a culture, it isn't impossible. As I was reading Larry's letter on the Alphabet landing page, I came across three key takeaways when it comes to creating a culture of innovation.
1. Innovation is an attitude/mindset
I hate to be the breaker of bad news, but innovation doesn't just happen in a single moment. Becoming innovative takes time and is definitely a process.
Sergey and Larry understood from the very early days of Google that they didn't want to be another typical run-of-the-mill technology company, they wanted to be different, unique and "do cool things that matter." To the startups out there, make sure that innovation and creativity are at the foundation of your business. How are you going to promote and value new ideas from your employees? If you are already a Fortune 500, it's not too late to get those creative juices flowing. For example, Adobe has had great success with its Kickbox program that it launched several years ago.
2. Innovation is about taking risks
I love how Page mentions being comfortable with being uncomfortable. I have seen many companies get stuck in a routine. They have their flagship product or products and they often have the mentality, "If this works, why change?" Although there is a bit of truth behind the statement, I would encourage companies to instead think, "What can we do to make this better? How can we deliver an even better experience for our customers?" I feel founder of the Sundance Film Festival, Robert Redford, sums up this point nicely.
3. Innovation doesn't mean you can cut corners
Just because your company may be trying to come up with the biggest, brightest, new idea that the world has ever seen doesn't mean that you can ignore being ethical. Despite the fast pace of innovation, companies still need to be transparent.
Page and Sergey are excited about "improving the transparency and oversight of what [they] are doing." Long gone are the days where companies only need to worry about pleasing shareholders. Now, companies are accountable to their employees, customers, community and just about everyone.
Google is just one fish in an entire ocean of innovative companies. Whether you are startup or a company that has been around the block for decades, remember that innovation is a mindset, about taking risks and must be done ethically and morally.
How does your company stay innovative?