IT companies are among some of the most innovative companies in the world. They also frequently dominate lists such as BRW’s annual Best Places to Work. Is encouraging innovation in a company therefore a question of culture?
IT companies such as Google have frequently topped best places to work lists worldwide. Positions at Google are highly sought after and the envy of others. They are also among the most innovative companies in the world.
Facebook is another example of an IT company that recognises the importance culture plays towards innovation. They have not only developed a highly successful product, but even its own programming language, HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM), has been released as an open source project. A lot of their success can be brought down to company culture where developers are often encouraged to experiment and not be afraid of failure.
How important a role does culture play in a company? “Culture plays a very important role in any company. People need to be able to cooperate and work cohesively towards a common goal, not against each other. This type of work environment will help foster innovation through collaboration,” commented Kareem Tawansi, CEO of software development company, Solentive Software.
All companies need to be able to foster innovation within their organisation to step ahead of the competition. Innovation can benefit all parts of any organisation, not just technology companies. Companies can be innovative through finding new mediums that sales and marketing can engage with their target market such as social media and mobile applications; research and development of new products or services; and automating existing workflows. However, the challenge that many organisations face is finding ways to encourage innovation.
So how can a company replicate the fun and innovative culture of so many technology companies? Tawansi advised that, “Culture is always a work in progress for any organisation, they need to continually:
- Ensure that employees are looked after – unhappy employees can spread a negative vibe within the workplace
- Ensure that there is open communication between employees and management so that issues are resolved immediately and do not fester, and also so that obstacles to innovative thinking are removed;
- Encourage input from employees and conduct regular anonymous Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys – this is a good indicator of whether company culture is heading in the right direction or taking a step back;
- Communicate company vision, values and goals;
- Take teams to work offsite in a more relaxed setting – a change in scenery can encourage a change in approach;
- Provide an environment or occasion where employees can socialise and bond;
- Ensure who you hire complements the company culture; and most importantly,
- Acknowledge effort and innovative thinking.”
It goes without saying that every company’s culture is different. It is a unique ecosystem of different personality traits and talents. It is therefore crucial that before a major change is implemented, that an assessment is made on whether the change is aligned with company values and vision.