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Be Like Facebook

Be Like Facebook: Move Fast and Break Things

For Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, rapid, ambitious innovation was so crucial to his company’s success that he began encouraging employees to “move fast and break things.”

Innovation, however, is vital not only to Silicon Valley startups, but to all companies. Analyses suggest that companies that focus primarily on boosting innovation achieve revenues and profits 2-15 times larger than companies that focus on boosting productivity.

Some core practices could enhance innovation within your company.

Collaborate: At its core, effective creativity and business innovation is a team sport. Breakthrough products are not the result of one moment of blinding insight by a singular genius. Rather, innovations are time-honed products of a series of insights, critiques, missteps, revisions and progressively more inventive thinking by clusters of creative, intelligent and focused people.

Fuel that collaboration by forming temporary teams of employees to tackle specific challenges. Design work spaces to encourage impromptu discussions and brain-storming sessions by employees in different divisions. And build a corporate culture that rewards teamwork and collaborative solutions, rather than high productivity by individual employees.

Communicate: Experts urge business leaders to provide feedback on all new ideas floated by employees, recognizing promising concepts, analyzing an idea’s relevance to the corporate mission, and identifying potential problems. Such feedback can come from a designated supervisor, a project team or it can be crowd-sourced through a company’s intranet. Some companies have discovered that online discussion forums and survey tools trigger valuable contributions from individuals who don’t feel comfortable offering feedback during meetings.

Diversify: To be effective in the marketplace, a creative staff also needs to be diverse. Understandably, teams that include individuals of different sexes, races, socio-economic backgrounds, professions, interest groups and mindsets are more likely to recognize a broader range of market opportunities and challenges, and bring a richer spectrum of ideas to the table. A study by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) concluded that companies with diverse leadership teams are 70 percent more likely to capture new markets and 45 percent more likely to improve their market share.

Building an innovative workforce requires effort and patience, but it could deliver better business returns than all of our conventional efforts to drive productivity.