Which programs do the top 10 tech companies run to advance internal innovation and external innovation in their industries?
Hello! Thanks for your question about programs tech companies use to advance internal innovation and external innovation. The short version is that companies rely on policies that change the employee atmosphere (such as the design of their workspace) and the company structure (such as allocation of resources). Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.
Google hosts a weekly hour long meeting that every Google employee can observe, either in person or through livestreaming. The founders share relevant news and actions by the company, engineers share upcoming products, and members from the legal and marketing side share insights. The meeting works to foster the interconnected, engaged atmosphere of a small business that happens to include thousands of employees.
THE 70/20/10 MODEL
Google's approach to structuring the time and efforts of its employees is called the 70/20/10 Model. 70% of projects focus on the core business, 20% are connected to the core business, and 10% are unrelated. This approach aims to make sure enough time is devoted to the main money making efforts of the business, while leaving room for creative thinking and experimentation that can lead to innovation. It also helps reduce turnover, since employees are allowed to pursue passion projects.
Intel works to create innovation through environmental design. Work spaces are set up to foster collaboration and interaction. Restrictive cubicles are replaced with open work spaces and team areas. Workers are allowed to customize the space in the way that works best for them, which helps maximize efficiency while promoting innovation. Spaces are equipped with technology, allowing workers to brainstorm ideas with employees in other locations. This collaboration helps generate fresh ideas without relying on the tired boardroom group brainstorming meetings. In Ireland, the company built an "innovation lab" with every wall covered in a whiteboard. The design of the room fosters an environment of innovation.
Apple followed a similar mindset with its circular campus. The structure allows workers to work alone as needed (which allows introvert employees to thrive) and then come together as the project requires (which helps create innovation).
HP knows the value of "time off" from a project. They allow their employees time after projects to engage in self-care and recuperate. While this may appear to be lost time, it actually helps their employees think more creatively and be more likely to innovate. After employees finished a project that had consumed their time and focus, they were encouraged to spend a few weeks resting. During this time, the employees were more creative and came up with an idea for an electronic bench that was built successfully in a few months. The time of rest ended up fueling innovation.
THE MICROSOFT GARAGE
The Microsoft Garage concept started with employees who wanted to collaborate with individuals from other departments. It began in an actual garage, and has since spread to many spaces throughout Microsoft offices. Employees bring an idea or project they're seeking collaboration on. Anyone from Microsoft can step into the room, interact with the ideas, and add feedback. The company has seen great success with ideas developing and improving as different minds contribute. Contribution is voluntary, which helps employees seek out innovation and contribution rather than feel pressured or put on the spot to come up with ideas.
CHANGING THE WORK ENVIRONMENT FREQUENTLY
Facebook believes that the physical environment affects the mindset of the employees. By frequently changing the work environment, employees can experience more creative thinking and generate new ideas easier. Employees are encouraged to move their desks to new locations when they collaborate with a new team. This change in environment helps generate new ideas and fresh innovations.
Oracle encourages its staff to promote friendly competitions to encourage innovation. The heads of departments are given the freedom to decide what contest to host and what to award as a prize. This motivation can be the extra push an employee needs to innovate and come up with a winning idea.
MAKE POSITIVE EXAMPLES OF INNOVATORS
IBM is intentional about promoting innovators. The leadership team works to observe and identify employees who consistently think outside the box and work to generate fresh ideas. These employees are then promoted to prominent, visible roles. It's the management's way to reward fresh ideas over sales generated.
INTEGRATE EMPLOYEES QUICKLY
Samsung works to integrate new hires as quickly as possible into their team. They've expedited their onboarding process from three months to three weeks. The goal is to help employees hit the group running and feel as if they are a valued part of the company quickly. This allows them to shift their focus to contributing their ideas and efforts as soon as possible, which helps foster an environment of innovation.
A COMPANY WIDE COMPETITION
CISCO hosted a competition involved half of its 72,000 employees. The competition was loosely based on traditional startup competitions, but intentionally implemented more of a game-like mentality. Employees were encouraged to group up with those outside their traditional divisions, think broadly, and pitch an idea they were passionate about. The focus was creating disruptive solutions for their customers. Once ideas were generated, employees voted on the ideas. Six months later, 1,000 entries were paired down to 6 ideas. The winning team received $50,000 and the resources to materialize the idea. The end result for the company was a large collection of innovative ideas to implement effective changes in the company.
To wrap it up, tech companies engage in a number of strategies to encourage internal innovation and external innovation. Some ideas involve environmental design of the employees workspace, while others use competition and prizes to encourage innovation. Thanks for using Wonder! Please let us know if we can help with anything else!