Innovative organizations “are marked out by their visionary leadership, license to explore new ideas, readiness to collaborate, and ability to commercialize new ideas quickly.” - PwC
What does innovation mean to you? Type the term into a Google search and you’ll likely come across the definition, “the action or process of innovating.” Not very helpful.
Regardless of its elusive definition, innovation is an important element of business success, growth, and survival. And while 2 out of 3 organizations would cease to exist without innovation, only 24% are “fully confident they have defined the skills and activities they need to be innovative.”
So if you’re a global organization struggling to leverage your team’s full innovation potential—you’re not alone. Identifying, exploring, and implementing cutting edge ideas can be hard enough when a team is in the same room, nevermind across different time zones.
The good news? There are plenty of organizations successfully harnessing talent from around the world to serve as inspiration. United behind a global strategy, here are five phenomenally innovative global teams doing it right—see how you can utilize the same principles to engage your own organization.
“Our customers are loyal to us right up until the second somebody offers them a better service. And I love that. It’s super motivating for us.” - Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
With a recent accession to the richest person on the planet, Jeff Bezos is the definition of a visionary leader. Driven by a strong customer focus, Amazon continues to launch disruptive products and services like Amazon Fresh, Amazon Prime, Amazon Publishing, Kindle, Alexa, and more.
The number one principle driving their initiatives? Customer obsession, as outlined in Amazon’s Leadership Principles: “Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust.” Amazon unites their team behind this concept to stay focused on the intersection between what is possible and what their customers might want next—a strong innovation strategy.
General Electric Company
“There is a way to do it better—find it.” - Thomas Edison
For more than 100 years, GE’s commitment to science and innovation has changed lives. This global organization embodies its mission, which has remained intact since Thomas Edison founded it in 1892, to “drive innovation that grows business and makes for a better world.”
One way they stay innovative? Tapping into the fresh eyes and inspired minds of entrepreneurs by investing in and partnering with startups. For example, GE recently formed a partnership with Quirky, a crowd-sourced innovation platform where designers and engineers build the most promising innovations upvoted by the Quirky community.
General Electric is never afraid to turn outward for new ideas. With a goal to lighten a jet engine bracket by 30%, GE turned to GrabCad, the largest online community of designers and engineers. After reviewing submissions from 56 countries, GE went with an engineer from Indonesia who was able to reduce the weight by 84%—proof that global innovation initiatives are alive and well.
“As a company, you need to get to the future first, ahead of your customers, and be ready to greet them when they arrive.” - Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce
Back in 1999, Salesforce was started in a one bedroom apartment by three men with a vision to deliver business software applications in an entirely new way. Fast forward to 2017 where the worldwide software-as-a-service market will reach upwards of $2.4B and Salesforce is paving the way, earning a spot on Forbes’ The World’s Most Innovative Companies list seven years in a row—this year at number one.
Expanding 20% year over year, this powerful computing company is under more pressure than ever to deliver new solutions for the future. Their strategy? According to Salesforce CIO Ross Meyercord: investing in tech talent. To close the technology skill gap, Salesforce created Trailhead, a training tool to help their developers learn in real time as the Salesforce product evolves. A fitting innovation strategy for a next-generation technology platform.
“We should be focused on building things that don’t exist.” - Larry Page, Google Co-Founder
What innovative company list would be complete without this tech giant? Harvard Business Review describes Google’s approach as one that “doesn’t rely on any one innovation strategy, but deploys a number of them to create an intricate—but powerfu —innovation ecosystem that seems to roll out innovations by the dozens.” Google is known for pushing technological boundaries, and it certainly pays off.
Perhaps their most cutting-edge muse? Google Brain, Google’s deep learning artificial intelligence research project. Their strong leadership encourages the team to explore on their own accord, so long as they stay focused on improving people’s lives by making machines smarter. Straying away from micromanagement has allowed Google to dive head first into what chairman Eric Schmidt claims to be “the basis and fundamentals of every successful huge IPO win in 5 years.”
No matter how you define innovation, a global team united behind a single strategy makes the impossible possible. We at Ariel believe that the key to unlocking and implementing innovative ideas stems from human potential. By investing in your employees’ communication and leadership skills, global teams can boost performance at every level.
Want to see how Ariel helps Fortune 500 organizations stay innovative and win business? Check out this story.