“Done is better than perfect”, says Mark Zuckerberg. And I agree with him.

We need to understand the essence of this quote.

What it tells us between the lines is that trying is necessary, putting ideas to practice not worrying about making mistakes. We need to EXECUTE and TEST a good idea. If it doesn’t pay off when brought to practice, we can discard that idea and move to next one. Not being afraid of mistakes is just as important as learning from them.

So you could hear someone say: It’s awesome that we have entrepreneurs and modern thinkers such as Zuckerberg and other incredible leaders who are part of organizations that take risks and create things that make the world evolve.

That’s definitely not how it happens!

Innovation is not a brilliant insight that happens to a specific type of genius personality. In a proper environment, anyone can become an innovation agent, whether they are Implemental (improving products, services or processes), Lateral (adapted from ideas gathered from other companies) or Disruptive (a completely new concept).

Innovation is a continuous process that is (and should be) incorporated to the culture of organizations so they are able to grow in a sustainable way, face the challenges and reinvent themselves whenever needed. This is the difference between a company that grows and one that fades away.

The scenarios that we have to face have become more and more challenging each day: lack of resources (including time!), global crises, changes related to technology and mentality that happen way too fast, a total deconstruction of paradigms that not so long ago we had as premise for the market and the world. Organizations have to be agile, versatile, and creative but they also need strong pillars to help them face the storms. To me, the main pillar of a company is its culture — and nowadays that culture needs to be innovative!

If that is so, let’s talk about how we can fortify the culture of an organization and make it innovative. For a company to have a solid base that allows it to implement an innovative process, it needs three fundamental things:

  1. A cause that guides it — A firm goal, a reason for its existence that permeates everyone in the organization so all collaborators wake up every day feeling grateful for being a part of something they believe in. The important thing is not what we do but why we do it!
  2. Clear, real values — Having a chart of values that we hang on the wall of the departments and show our clients is not enough. We need to experience these values that characterize us in every moment and in our attitude. Good culture is able to align values and goals in order to form a winning strategy.
  3. A team of protagonists — We already know that people are the greatest actives of a company. However, what most companies have not learned yet is that people need to be protagonists of what they do. The compromise and the satisfaction of a human being have to go through a sense of belonging and joy in collaborating. Simple “task performers” do not engage in a vision, even if you make them memorize the company’s handbook. The old saying “wear the colors” acquires new meaning if people feel they are more than only pieces of the game: they are the players!

In order to incorporate innovation in our culture, it is necessary to create an environment that triggers the production of ideas and gives room for protagonists to exist; an environment set inside an organized cycle that retro feeds itself. Innovation itself should not be a goal, but a nutrient that runs in the veins of the company and infects the routines, the processes and the interpersonal relationships. To simplify, bellow you can see a graphic representing the Continuous Cycle of Innovation:

The Magic that happens when people start to feel comfortable to share their proposals and test their ideas is that they start to learn continuously. The more they learn, the more the company leans. Holistically, a culture incorporates this continuous learning model that, at the end of the day is what feeds the innovative process of a company. Every organization moves and reinvents itself!

The culture of risk-taking is becoming more and more present in organizations. What I predict is that the learning cycle of this culture will minimize the impact of mistakes and optimize the relevance of successes, creating a very positive impact on people and companies. Think about that!