3 Actions for an Innovative Culture: Advice from Lazlo Bock

Lazlo Bock, the co-founder of Humu, a stealth mode start-up, spoke at this year’s HR Tech conference. Prior to being a fellow startup founder, Lazlo was the head of People Operations for Google. Many consider him to be the most innovative and analytical HR leader of this past decade.

He and Google have brought the business world incredible insights around performance, including the importance of psychological safety.

His keynote was about what one should DO to create a more innovative culture. His advice was practical. The path to innovation starts with small actions that collectively have a big impact. Here were three that jumped out:

Connect people to a greater purpose

Adam Grant’s research shows that fundraising success went up 40% when agents were visited regularly by people who benefited from the funds raised. But how do you DO this? His advice is pretty straight forward — ask! Find out why people are doing their jobs and what’s meaningful to them and then help them see how the work connects to what they care about.

Strike a balance between the big and the little

Companies need a portfolio of BIG ideas [moonshots] and continuous innovation and improvements [roofshots] in order to be innovative. The temptation by leadership is to focus most attention on the moonshots. However, arming yourself with stories of roofshots to share at All Hands Meetings ensures people are excited to be part of those efforts to improve something a little bit, all the time. And due to the laws of compounding, roofshots can be game-changing.

Manufacture casual collisions

Note that this advice was what to DO in order to “Be Lucky”. He talked about how the lunch line at Google was engineered to encourage people from different teams to have to wait at least a little bit and talk to people. One of Google’s most successful products came from one person overhearing another persons problem in the lunch line. How can you create physical elements that force people to change their patterns and interact with people they might not normally talk to? What can you DO to create moments of serendipity?

What I noticed in his presentation is that actions that create an innovative culture are familiar. They look pretty similar to those that create a positive culture. It suggests that a focus on creating a positive workplace will likely lead to a much more innovative workplace too. It’s something we see atWeSpirewith our customers. Once they run sustainability and social impact campaigns, they often want to use our platform to drive ideas for innovation. As a result, we are working on a cool new feature to support employee idea sharing and feedback. We are also developing metrics to demonstrate that employees who participate in positive impact initiatives are more likely to generate innovative ideas. What are the other connections you see between positive culture and innovation? Love to hear more in the comments!