Part 1

Learn from Web Summit 2018 speakers: How to build a culture of innovation?

Whether you’re in a big corporation that has a designated innovation department or a startup whose product research team is responsible for new ideas, it often happens, that innovation is delegated to a particular team, not to an organisation in general.

What separates these Web Summit speakers like Netflix, Google, Pipedrive, and Patreon from others is their way of engaging their entire team into making innovation happen. So let’s learn from them.

Lesson 1: Brace for change

As the Netflix culture deck co-creator Patty McCord said in an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, the deck took 10 years to write.

Inevitably, your company will change, so will your team and your culture. So take a tip from Patty, keep your culture as slides or a file in your wiki that you can easily change at any moment. Do not print it out and never-ever make it into a poster for the office. Culture is something to be lived not occasionally glanced at.

Lesson 2: Start NOW

Don’t get stuck into thinking that company culture is something that belongs either in the realm of corporate BS or was written 20 years ago and cannot be changed. It’s neither.

Get started by writing down the behaviors that you need in your team to achieve success. As Patty said, “I wanted to write down “behaviors” and not “values.” It’s an important distinction because values are aspirational. Behaviors are what you actually do.”

Lesson 3: Involve your team, to an extent

Getting everyone to say yes in a meeting doesn’t mean you have an agreement, it means you have a bunch of bobbleheads. Instead, it’s about coming to the best idea for the company and rallying around it.”
– Eric Schmidt. “How Google Works.”

Accept from the get-go that not everyone will agree with the culture you decide on and that is OK. Gather input from your team, ask them “What kind of behavior makes us successful? What kind of behaviors are we missing to be successful? What kind of behaviors are slowing us down?”

Use the data to consolidate and gather feedback on your proposal again. Communicate the changes and explain why some of the suggestions were not accepted.

Lesson 4: Use culture to get the right people on the bus

Once you’ve defined your culture as behaviors you need to succeed, you’ll have a lot easier time finding the people who can deliver. Keep your culture public to weed out any people who might be attracted to your brand without knowing what it actually means. Integrate it to the hiring process: give a homework assignment related to the culture or ask them for past examples of where they have behaved that way.

For example, when I worked in a startup, we had a value of brutal honesty. So, I’d ask the candidates when was the last time they shared bad news or gave feedback to someone at their workplace. We couldn’t afford to have people on board who couldn’t overcome the discomfort of telling someone about a fuck-up.

Lesson 5: cheat

When in doubt, use the Netflix and Patreon culture decks as a starting point. Get your core team together, pick and choose what you think would work for you. And from there you:

Going to Web Summit?

Great, because so are we! Why don’t we have a quick coffee and see how we could help you to innovate your business in a market changing way. Just drop an InMail to our COO Anu Einberg or our Product Manager Heili Strite via LinkedIn and let’s get this show rolling.

Mooncascade is a Machine Learning & Product Development company focused on building new disruptive solutions with real business and market impact. With a team of nearly 100 specialists, we are chosen product development partner for all regional telecommunication companies, work closely with financial companies, and are often brought in when large industries require an agile and experienced product development partner.

Published by Heili Strite

. Heili is a Head of Business Development at Mooncascade, the leading Product Development and AI Consultancy Company. She enjoys working with companies who want to infuse startup mindset into their product development processes and culture.