Hint: it’s not about the perks

Fast Company‘s recently published 50 Best Workplaces for Innovators list is an eye-opener worth reading. The magazine’s research team, in partnership with Accenture, sought companies that “empower all employees…to create new products, improve operations, and take risks.” Ones where “innovation isn’t just a buzzword but a part of the value system and culture.”

The result provides insight into the factors that matter. While perks certainly play a part, it’s ultimately the benefits such as:

  • Time to pursue bold projects (both within and outside main jobs)
  • Configuring work spaces in a way that leads to greater collaboration across teams
  • Putting premiums on inclusivity
  • Giving people room to fail

The key is giving everyone at every level the opportunity to make a difference.

“The need to develop a culture that fosters inventive thinking has never been more urgent” says Paul Daugherty, chief technology and innovation officer at Accenture. “People are going to go where they feel innovation is valued.”

We think the examples below are particularly relevant for large established firms seeking to inject new energy into their organizations. While some, like Amazon and 3M are no surprise, these others give an idea of what’s possible regardless of company size, age, or industry:

PROCTER & GAMBLE

Here’s what P&G’s GrowthWorks program does: After conducting consumer research to identify a problem, a small team prototypes and tests a solution on a metered-­funding basis, earning additional investment upon reaching pre-­established milestones. GrowthWorks currently has more than 130 experiments running, including 10 that have launched. Procter & Gamble Co. intends to invest more than $8.8 million to grow at least three new businesses with billion-dollar potential, which will be created, incubated, scaled and headquartered in Singapore.

CHOBANI

To reduce inefficiencies and increase collaboration, the private yogurt company brought 90% of its agency work (including advertising, PR, design, consumer research, and retail execution) in-house, creating a 359-person department that operates under one budget. The change allowed Chobani to take its Less Sugar Greek Yogurt product from concept to stores in less than six months. On a related note, Chobani recently opened a 71,000 sq ft innovation and community center at its Twin Falls plant in Idaho. Complete with fitness center, state-of-the-art chef kitchen, lactation rooms, faith center, and gathering space for town halls, shared meals, daily relaxation and more, it represents Chobani’s commitment to grow R&D and expand its focus as a “food-focused wellness company.”

L’ORÉAL

The 110-year-old cosmetics maker, which has an internal technology incubator and more than 4,000 employees dedicated full-time to research and innovation, registered 505 patents in 2018. Last November, it became the first beauty company to launch a tech product, My Skin Track UV, a battery-free wearable UV sensor, sold exclusively through Apple.

ROCKWELL AUTOMATION

Century-old Rockwell Automation recently added an electric-vehicle research center that will be accessible from anywhere in the world through augmented reality. Company leaders post “wanted” ads for solutions that any self-formed team within Rockwell can tackle and be rewarded for developing.

KRONOS INCORPORATED

Six years ago, executives at the workforce-management software company sequestered a team of 25 to reinvent Kronos’s core product. That group, dubbed ‘Project Falcon,’ eventually swelled to 600 and created a new cloud-based workforce-management platform called Workforce Dimensions, which has helped drive up company revenue by 38%.

Read the full article and company list here.

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