July 22, 2015 BestCompaniesAZ

The #1 Secret of Innovative Companies

To make your company more innovative, focus on your culture.

“We often think of innovation as new, different products”, said Corey Staten, VP Client Services and Strategy for Charles Schwab, one of Arizona’s Most Admired Companies and winner of the 2015 Innovation Spotlight Award. “A lot of times it’s refining and honing in on your culture and what makes you great.”

What does it mean to “refine and hone in on your culture”? Before they built new products with the potential to transform investing for millions of people, Charles Schwab built a reputation as a great place to work. The company developed an award winning culture that proved to be an innovation laboratory. Transformation for clients happens in cultures that are transformational for employees.

So, to promote innovation in your company, start with the culture. Ask yourself, what is the risk vs. reward to employees for developing new ideas in your company? How do you handle the failures and off-the-wall ideas that inevitably precede innovation? Is management actively seeking and listening to new ideas from within? Is it easy for employees to innovate, or are there too many roadblocks?

The same is true for talent acquisition. What do you think candidates experience when they apply to one of your open positions? Are they inspired by their interactions with your team, or frustrated by an unfriendly process? How can you avoid your culture being represented by the dreaded “black hole” or boring onboarding? With the war for talent in full swing, talent acquisition processes are ripe for innovation.

Refining and honing in on your culture is a simple idea that takes strong leadership to execute, but as Charles Schwab proved, it’s the way to unleash innovation.

Learn more about Arizona’s Most Admired Companies award program and how your organization can be recognized for your innovation, workplace culture, leadership excellence, social responsibility and customer opinion.

About the Author
Lee Vikre – Hiring Jedi
A workplace culture maven, writer, and speaker, Lee Vikre has helped numerous companies develop “best company” cultures, gaining recognition at the local and national level. Lee has been called the Jedi Master of hiring because of her exceptional recruiting abilities and friendships with people who love Star Wars. Her favorite activities involve matching people with their dream jobs at award-winning best companies. Lee coaches CEOs but still hasn’t been able to train her three dogs not to bark during conference calls.