Liberating the potential for innovation

by Mauricio Goldstein and Jose Luiz Weiss

Today, we know that innovation has become the main way for companies to grow and be successful in their markets, in addition to being the best way to express their purpose in the world. Creativity and innovation are natural states for human beings, and this leads us to the question: “how do we create organizations that liberate this natural potential that we all have?”

The way we think, relate to others, learn and organize ourselves in a company either creates or pushes us away from a creative frequency. When people feel that a company has a daring purpose, their ideas are welcome, there is an environment of collaboration and trust, and that they can experiment (and even make mistakes), they are willing to contribute and to build something different together. It is as if there were a special energy in the air, a frequency that favors innovation.

In our research, we found 7 principles that organizations use to promote and sustain the frequency of innovation:

Recently I met with my cousin Roberto, who works at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, and I observed some of these principles in practice:

· Google’s mission is “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” (an inspirational attractor).

· Roberto told me that he works on a team with six people, focused on developing new technological platforms that will serve as the basis for Google’s future products. They have the freedom to propose the projects they want to work on, but they must find an internal client that is interested in the product or service that they will create (adaptive organization design).

· The team is composed of specialists who complement each other (diverse ideas and perspectives) and who have total autonomy and flexibility to organize themselves to deliver on what is promised, with a very low degree of control (Collaboration and trust).

It is incredible to see the degree of transparency, trust and openness that exists there: every Thursday, the founders hold a town hall meeting for all employees, at which they share information about the company and its markets (Transformative leadership). There is an enormous flow of people and free services available right on the Campus: bicycles located all around to go from one building to another, lots of good food, places to play sports and have fun; all of this without any control or hierarchy. It comes as no surprise that Google is the 2nd most valuable company in the world today!

Innovation is so critical to Google that in 2013 they updated their list of 9 principles of innovation. One interesting principle is “the pattern is open.” Kallayil, a Google VP, commented: “There are seven billion people (in the world) … the most intelligent people will always be outside Google. By open pattern, we are taking advantage of creativity outside Google.” This was fundamental for the creation of an ecosystem of applications for the Android operating system. (adaptive organization design)

In 2010, Google created a new company, Google X Lab, whose purpose is to make major technological advances. Scientist and businessman Astro Teller, who guides the laboratory activities, says that their goal is to improve technologies and develop “solutions that seem to be science fiction.” Some examples are self-driving cars, the balloons that are democratizing internet access, or the search for clean energy. In other words, experiment to learn and achieve. There is even a TED talk in which Astro speaks about the unexpected benefit of celebrating failures.

All this innovation is the result of continuous curiosity and an adaptive approach, where one learns from whatever is happening and adapts the action accordingly (a Liberate potential mindset).

Many people will say that their company is not Google. But it doesn’t have to be. The question is: “what can you do, based on these 7 principles, to bring more innovation to your work, your area or to the institution you are dedicated to?”

Design your organization to be more innovative, tune in to this frequency, and release the human potential that is already available. And while you’re at it, have fun and be happy!