Innovative people do not need to be told to do it, they need to be allowed to do it.
Some of the most frequent questions we get from CEOs and leaders of other companies are: How does Google innovate? Can innovation be planned? Can it be taught? We think that company culture and innovation can’t be separated. “You have to have the culture,” says Alphabet Inc Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, “and you need to get it right.”
So how do you create a culture of innovation? Google doesn’t have a secret formula, but we have distilled our thinking into a set of basic principles—ideas we believe can be adapted and applied at pretty much any organization, regardless of size or industry.
Innovation is a process, not an event.
At Google we think Innovation is a process, not an event. It’s one that all leaders can learn and put in place right now. This is why we have created Creative Skills for Innovation labs. We run many of them in the Google Garage, a “hacker maker design space” where Googlers and enterprise customers learn how to tackle big, audacious challenges.
These labs are based on the 3 pillars of innovation:
- Know the user. We go out in the field and talk to people, using technology to listen to our users and record information. We watch, we listen, and we build empathy—not just sympathy for our users’ needs, but an actual way of relating to them.
- Think 10x. We come up with a lot of big, bold, crazy ideas. During the brainstorming session we use pictures (louder than words, also harder to misinterpret), write short headlines (6 words or less!), and most importantly, we defer judgment. We build on initial ideas by moving from “no but” to “yes and” thinking.
- Prototype. We roll up our sleeves and make a quick and dirty prototype—a physical manifestation of an idea that is built to answer questions and our assumptions. We can then feel it, share it, and get feedback.
Using Virtual Reality to learn innovation at Google Garage
Even if you can’t travel to Silicon Valley you can now use your phone and Google Cardboard—or any other VR gear—or from your desktop with YouTube 360, to join the first Innovation Lab at Google Garage in VR, and witness our “3 pillars of innovation” in action.
Time to experience in the first person how to bring innovative thinking to work.