Page 1

volume 5

issue 10

march/april 2012

Leslie Caccamese Senior Strategic Marketing Manager, Great Place to Work®

Culture Expert

Great Workplaces –

Great Innovators

The Three Cs for Sustaining a Culture of Innovation

To many, it comes as no surprise that great workplaces often are also great innovators. When we consider the likes of Google, Microsoft, W.L. Gore, Intel, and the other 96 companies on our 100 Best Companies to Work For list, it seems like these companies are just better at everything.

At Great Place to Work , ®

we were interested in understanding if there is a real link between being a great workplace and a great innovator. Our research into the Best Companies to Work For revealed three distinct areas where great workplaces put extraordinary focus that helps sustain a culture where innovation can thrive: Communication, Coordination, and Collaboration.

Communication One of the reasons so many great workplaces are also great innovators is that their employees are intimately connected to the company’s business objectives, mission, and goals, and regularly receive candid and detailed updates on where the business is and where it is headed. When people understand where the company is going, they can help get there. In an innovation culture, communication reflects these beliefs and behaviors: Please turn to page 12

Ways to Destroy Innovation | Hampton Creates Communities | Feeding Creativity

Creating a Culture of Innovation

Jim Carroll

Innovation Expert


Surefire Ways to Destroy Innovative Thinking

There are a few key mistakes that organizations make when it comes to innovation. Do these sound familiar?

With all the upcoming leadership events and keynotes that I have on my schedule, I’m on a pretty constant stream of planning conference calls. As I dig into the culture and attitude of a client through interviews with the CEO and other team members, I’m always mystified to find that some organizations just seem to do everything they can to shut down new ideas. Here are some points to consider to find out if your company is on the way to killing innovation.



Form a Committee. An absolute surefire way of shutting down ideas! The herd mentality takes over, and activity sclerosis soon sets in.


Defer Decisions. It’s easier to wait than to make any bold, aggressive moves. Uncertainty is a virtue; indecision is an asset.


Hide Failure. If anyone tries something new and doesn’t succeed, make sure that no one else sees it. You don’t want to set a message that it is important to take risks.


Let Innovators Work in Secret. You want to make sure that the concept of innovation remains some deep, mysterious process that not everyone can participate in. That will help to ensure that most of your team doesn’t pursue any type of fresh new thinking. They’ll just keep doing what they’ve always done.

Creating a Culture of Innovation


Banish Fear. Make sure that everyone thinks that everything is going to be all right. You don’t have to deal with potential business market disruption, new competitors, significant industry transformation, or the impact of globalization. Everything will look the same 10 years from now, so just keep everyone focused on doing the same old thing!


Accept the Status Quo. Things are running perfectly, you’ve got the perfect product mix, and all of your customers are thrilled with your brand and the levels of customer service. There’s no need to do anything new since it’s all going to work out just fine!


Be Cautious. Don’t make any bold, aggressive moves. Just take things slowly, one step at a time. If you move too fast, things are likely to go wrong. Let complacency settle in like a warm blanket.


Glorify Process. Make sure that everything is filled out in triplicate; be sure process slows down any radical ideas. It’s more important to do things perfectly than to make mistakes.


Are You in an Innovation Rut? Find out! Take the list below to your next meeting. Score one point each time a phrase is used, plus bonus points as indicated. If your total is more than 5, you’ve got an organization The definition of insanity is doing that is the same thing over and over again innovationand expecting a different result averse. Score each time. 10 or more, and you are – Albert Einstein innovation-dead. If you get 15 or more, you might as well close up shop.

Be Narrow. Keep a very tiny view of the future. You can’t succeed with any big wins, because there aren’t going to be any dramatic surprises in the future. Think small. Act accordingly.

10. Study Things to Death. Don’t let any uncertainty creep into your decision-making process. Make sure that if you are to do anything, that you’ve spent sufficient time and effort to understand all the variables. Your goal is ensuring that any decision is free of risk, unlikely to fail, and in retrospect will be carefully and fully documented. And there are certainly more attitudes that help destroy innovative thinking. What do you think? What are the other attitudes and ways of thinking that manage to shut down organizational idea machines?

“We’ve always done it this way.” (3 bonus points)

“It won’t work.”

“That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.”

“That’s not my problem.”

“You can’t do that.”

“I don’t know how.”

“I don’t think I can.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“The boss won’t go for it.” (5 bonus points)

“Why should I care?” (10 bonus points)

Please turn to page 15



Gina Valenti Vice President, Owner Services, Hilton Worldwide Vice President, Brand Culture and Internal Communications, Hampton Hotels Benita Chang-Godoy Director, Brand Culture and Internal Communications, Hampton Hotels

Case Study

Leveraging Technology to Create Collaboration across a Community of Thousands Making personal connections is a cornerstone of the hospitality industry. Connecting with guests, team members, colleagues, and hotel owners is part of what we do every day. A few years ago at Hampton, many of our 1,850plus General Managers were feeling isolated, without avenues to connect with other hotels. As a brand, we collected various best practices, but collaboration across the lines was limited. General Managers wanted the ability to electronically share best practices, ask questions, and learn from the experiences of their peers. Being a franchise organization, however, it was a challenge to connect people who work for hundreds of different employers in hotels spread across 49 states and 10 countries.

Our solution

centers around the user perspective. Every detail of the site, every feature we included, came directly from our users.

– called Sharecast – was two years in the making, but well worth the effort. It has quickly become an invaluable resource for our General Managers and Team Members, and a great success story for Hampton. Sharecast is an example of the power of leveraging technology and innovation to celebrate the best in people, scale ideas, and enhance performance and engagement. One of our General Managers predicted it early when he said, “I personally think that Sharecast has the potential of being the #1 tool for all hotels. We become the encyclopedia of knowledge between us and our combined skills of 1,850 teams!”

Our first step, and the foundation of this process, is listening. Working with Root, we listened to our owners, operators, and General Managers and talked to them about the need to leverage the great things that were happening in their hotels. We asked them what they would want to share with the rest of the Hampton community and what information they would like that they couldn’t currently access. We also spent time listening to key stakeholders within the brand to get their input and buy-in from the very beginning of the process.

While Sharecast is a fresh and exciting tool for our hotel managers and teams, it’s not the technology alone that makes it truly innovative for our brand; it is the development process and user-centric approach we used in creating the site. We employed an eight-step approach – that we now apply to everything we develop – that

The next two steps in our process, ideating and generating, were done carefully and intentionally around our design philosophy. An innovation in its own right, our design philosophy was a set of guidelines that we used to manage the Sharecast project to solve the


Creating a Culture of Innovation

business problems identified through insights from users. Basically, we laid out the tenets and principles that we would stick to until the site was successfully up and running. This sounds easy, but it wasn’t. We created a really robust document that we came back to again and again as we developed the site.

our community and sparked connections that wouldn’t have been possible before. One front desk agent captured it perfectly in a note she sent to a General Manager she had never met, in a Hampton five states away: “I’ve been following your posts on Sharecast and I just wanted to say thank you. My goal is to be a GM of a Hampton Inn one day and I love your enthusiasm and the ideas you have shared with us. I’ve written many of your ideas in my journal so I can one day implement them on my own at my own property.”

The next four steps in our development process, generate, test, evaluate, and refine, were done over the span of a few months. We developed a prototype site and did three rounds of testing, gradually building out the features that our users said they wanted. This rolling development was a differentiator because it gained us buy-in from all of our stakeholders, and, equally important, it began filling the site with content. We knew that Sharecast, just like any website, would only be successful if it had content, so it was critical that there be plenty to look at and browse through when the site was launched. To start collecting content, and establish the “culture” of Sharecast (what’s appropriate to post and what’ not), we invited our topperforming hotels to be part of the testing. By the end of testing, Sharecast was well on its way with 216 users and over 200 posts!

For the brand, Sharecast continuously delivers insights. We are constantly looking at the analytics, tracking traffic to the site, demographics of users, what pages they are viewing, the average amount of time spent on the site, and much more.The last of our eight steps, measurement, tells us how successful we are, and where to begin looking for enhancements and improvements to make. We’re experimenting with opening Sharecast to strategic dialogue with the senior leadership from the Hampton Brand as well. Not long ago, Phil Cordell Global Head, Focused Service Brands and Hampton Hotels, asked in our weekly newsletter that people help him with an issue through Sharecast posts. A guest had sent a letter claiming that a General Manager had given him bad service. Phil asked the community, “What do you do when you’re under pressure and still have to give great customer service?” Because of that request, that post, Sharecast got more than 915 visitors the following day! To give perspective, our average at that time was about 130 visits a day.That week alone, more than 400 new users registered.The unprecedented response to Phil’s post has us brainstorming other strategic conversations to open with the Sharecast audience.

We officially launched Sharecast at our General Managers’ Conference in October 2011 to over 2,500 people – General Managers, Brand Team Members and franchise partners. We partnered with Root to do media, an e-mail teaser, and a “commercial” at the conference. As of press time, Sharecast has over 3,000 users, and there have been close to 30,000 visits since its launch. The site has even taken on a life of its own beyond General Managers;Team Members in every position have found the site valuable. What makes Sharecast work so well is that first right step: focusing on the user. We didn’t impose a new set of behaviors on our teams – we gave them an easy way to do what they already wanted to be doing.

Ultimately, Sharecast has succeeded in making our entire network of General Managers and Team Members into curators, experts, and anthropologists in hotel operations. By staying true to our process and putting the user at the center of every decision we made, we have used the best of technology to ignite our community and create connections beyond what we could have imagined!

Six months later, Sharecast is driving performance and engagement by scaling best practices and creating a community across our 1,850 hotels.Team Members who wouldn’t have been connected to each other now have a place to meet 24 hours a day – and they are! It’s created a world of peer-to-peer learning that has united



Brian Donovan Director of Insight and Client Solutions, Root

Industrial Perspective

The Odyssey

to Innovation

As strategy execution consultants, we constantly see mandates to innovate and strategies built around innovation. More than ever, it seems that organic growth through innovation is a critical component of almost every company’s strategy.

Get Them Motivated and Keep Them Motivated Innovation requires people to be as motivated to innovate as you are. To feel that motivation, they need to understand the strategic logic for innovation and the intent behind that logic. This is especially true in companies that have experienced incremental success without a focus on innovation. Many people can’t understand why innovation, with all of its perceived messiness, is important enough to outweigh the pain. If people are asking why you want them to innovate, try these techniques.

We’ve gained a few insights from working with companies who are trying to encourage their people to be more innovative. Change of any kind is hard, and good leaders will steer their people through the changes needed to both create innovation and deploy it. Here are some of the human factors that need to be managed to ensure that you reach your destination of innovation.


Give them an emotional connection by helping them “feel what the future will feel like” when it has been achieved. Help them see what you see. Telling stories, showing films, playing games – these are all

Creating a Culture of Innovation

what parts of the business will be affected by innovation. It’s critical to help align your organization on those things. You may want your R&D department to lead innovation, but not your legal department. To get everyone on board, you need to know who’s in charge of innovation and how it affects everyone else. People will need to know a role-by-role definition of what’s expected, and each role will need to redefine its focus based on this new mandate.

powerful ways to help everyone emotionally experience the benefits of innovation and focus on the excitement rather than the difficulty. Whether it’s an orientation or a reminder of what it feels like to create something new, find ways for your people to feel the euphoria of innovation! •

Help them see the business results of innovation by using data, group problem-solving, and simulations to show how innovation will help you achieve your goal and performance targets.

Show them a personal benefit by connecting the dots between business success and personal success. Focus on the emotional rewards of being creative and developing something new that someone else values.

Make it clear that management supports innovative thinking. If managers don’t create a safe place to experiment, it may be hard to build momentum for innovation! We often witness middle management’s actions actually working against innovation. This may show up as reinforcement of the status quo, punishing failures rather than celebrating early wins, criticizing new ideas, and failing to recognize when a new idea is suggested. We need to place failure and innovation right next to each other. We can’t innovate if we don’t fail, and people need to make this connection when we prepare them for innovation.

Getting Them Started Creating an atmosphere of innovation requires change. Think about your own company. Hundreds, even thousands of people are giving their time, talents, and energy to push the company toward your goals. They’re tired, and they don’t want more work. Leaders must overcome the inertia by instilling new behaviors, routines, and habits. To innovate, you have to begin by navigating through some fog. People are afraid of the unknown. This shows up as fear of reprisal, fear of embarrassment, and fear of inefficiency. There will almost certainly be some hard, time-consuming thinking required to get through the fog, so create an environment where this is accepted and understood. One of the best ways to spark a cultural movement in your organization is to create a subculture of innovators, and then spread their behaviors, routines, and habits throughout the company. You won’t be able to create this subculture if your most innovative people are scattered across your organization. Give the innovators opportunities to spend time together so they can build momentum and generate visible examples of the culture of innovation that you want to create. Allow them to work on small projects that illustrate in a tangible way what you want to encourage. Then, tell their stories and connect them to results so people across the organization can say, “Now I know what the desired innovation looks like,” and “I can do that too!”

Show Them the Results Next, make it clear how innovation supports the strategy and what innovation means for each role. Innovation is often misconstrued as the goal. Innovation is actually the things you do to achieve your goals. Innovative cultures, habits, behaviors, and routines are the human factors that enable you to innovate to achieve your goals. Being clear about how innovation helps you achieve your goals and then shoring up the human factors that enable innovation will set you up for success. That’s the hard part for leaders: getting clear on the parts of the business that will drive innovation, and



Try This With Your Team!

The Odyssey to Innovation Creating a culture of innovation may not be smooth sailing! This is a picture of a company on its journey to become an innovative organization. This could be your company! Gather your team around the picture and discuss these questions. 1. Describe the picture and point out the details of the ship and the various islands. 2. What are the differences between the islands at the top two corners? 3. Now, read all the quotes. Does anything sound familiar? 4. What kinds of obstacles must this crew overcome to accomplish their mission? 5. Do these obstacles to innovation exist in your company? How have these influenced your opinions of innovation? 6. Look at the man on Cyclops’ island. Why does he find himself in this situation? 7. How will the sailors on the ship work out their differences? 8. What will help this crew avoid the Sirens’ Island? 9. What stands out as most meaningful about this discussion? 10. What lessons from this picture can you apply to innovation at your company?


Creating a Culture of Innovation



Molly Reams Thompson Founder, Feeding Creativity

Industry Perspective

Feeding Creativity: How Caring About What You Eat Leads to Innovation These days, a lot of organizations and their leaders

1. Find the flaws in the current thinking. You don’t need innovation if things are fine as they are. But if they’re not, you need to pinpoint exactly what is wrong. To change the culture of any community, you need to change how they think about food. You can have wellness “events,” but very few community endeavors address the question, “How are we changing the way people relate to food?” If people are nourished with healthy food, nurtured by a caring environment, and engaged mentally and physically, our population becomes more productive. It all works together.

talk about “sustainability,” but internally, most of them don’t walk the talk, especially in relation to food. I have a goal: To “teach people to fish” in a way that helps them understand the importance of eating well and the results we can expect when we do. I started with my own family, and then realized what might happen if entire communities knew this – parents who needed to feed their kids well and raise them to be responsible for their own lives. My aim is to radically change how we feed and educate our children, parents, and everybody else – including the corporate world.

To understand just how people think about food, use the concept of “beginner’s mind” and just notice what’s happening around you. That’s how innovative thinking starts. For example, if you want to learn the mindset of a company about healthy eating, start by looking at the vending machine. Ask if they regularly buy pizza or cookies as “rewards” for employees. If there’s a cafeteria on site, ask what kind of food is served, and ask the chef where the food comes from. Ask people if they actually know what they’re eating.

By creating nourishing, nurturing, and engaging environments, we set the stage for learning. The “triple bottom line” of “people, planet, profit” that sums up corporate social responsibility and sustainability can easily convert to “nourish, nurture, and engage” when it comes to feeding people’s creativity. In my experience helping organizations understand how they can impact the health of their employees, create a foundation for a culture of innovation, and ultimately improve their bottom line, I learned some steps about introducing this new approach to food. 10

Creating a Culture of Innovation

In the same way, to introduce any kind of innovation at companies – to change the environment – you need buy-in from management to help educate people. When you eat better, you feel better. When you feel better, you do better. It’s as simple as that. (There’s more to this. See the box.)

stay well. That impacts the bottom line. People who feel well do more and better work. That impacts the bottom line. And what about all those employees who are practically comatose by 3 pm? Are companies getting the best from people who ate unhealthy food at lunch and are now starved for nutrients? Probably not. That’s more money down the drain. So feeding our people’s bodies, feeding their creativity, has a tangible return on investment. And so it is with any innovation. Show people in charge of money how the new thinking will improve that bottom line.

2. Start at the top, with the people who have the clout to get the innovation started. So how do you get organizational leadership to buy into this? Start with progressive-minded bosses who see the relevance of food to business results. If the boss can see that there are employees who are a health risk from an insurance perspective, that’s a plus. These people are costing money – and aren’t giving their best even on the days when they aren’t sick. When you point out a dollar value, you get attention for innovation.

4. Research benchmarks to find best practices and inspire more innovation. It helps to measure progress against others who have succeeded. Find companies who are doing what you want to do and research how they do it. For healthy eating, Revolution Foods and Jamie Oliver’s website are great places for inspiration (, jamieoliver. com/us/foundation/jamies-food-revolution).

3. Demonstrate how the innovation will affect the bottom line. Of course, business leaders can have plenty of objections. Most of these have to do with time, money, and extra work. One of the biggest problems is that they don’t immediately see the connection between innovation, eating well, and the bottom line. Point out that insurance companies incentivize businesses that help their people

Find best practices to model. At Google’s headquarters, for example, there are vending machines, but they make it easy to eat well because items are priced by nutritional value. If you want an organic snack bar, it costs about 15 cents. If you want a Twinkie, you can get one – but it will Please turn to page 13

The concept of changing communities through food, or in any other way, doesn’t just happen. It’s very mindful. We have to focus on how we feed, educate, and involve people. And it’s not just about health. It’s about what good food enables. It’s about recreating our world in a way that makes us healthy, intelligent, and living above the poverty level. When we eat better, we feel better, so we do better. But we have to put words before and after this phrase, so it looks like this:


Eat better, feel better, do better


First, we have to care that we eat better. And after we feel better and do better, we get better results. In the case of our kids, when they eat better, they learn better, and they get better jobs. It’s a win-win-win.



Continued from page 1

Belief in the value of transparency. Even good workplaces and great leaders struggle with establishing the right level of transparency in their internal communications. Closely guarding information about the state of the business diminishes trust, where honestly and authentically sharing information about the state of the company enhances employee trust in management and keeps employees connected with company goals.

and maintaining specific programs and mechanisms that will facilitate innovative thinking by creating the time and space for that thinking to occur. These coordinated efforts may take these forms:

Keep business goals front-of-mind for all employees. While semi-annual town halls are great opportunities to hear about the state of the business from executive leaders, it may not be enough to keep people connected with business goals throughout their day-to-day operations. Regularly cascade business information through departments to line managers who should be accountable for keeping teams alerted to successes, threats, and new opportunities. Invite employees to help set goals and strategy. At Great Place to Work®, we see more and more companies inviting employees to participate in the goal- and strategy-setting process through surveys and committees. Not only does this increase engagement, but it accelerates buy-in of company goals and facilitates big-picture thinking among frontline employees.

Time to innovate. Many companies offer the designers, developers, and engineers behind their products designated time to work on approved projects – of the employees’ own creation – that don’t serve current product or profit goals. This sanctioned freedom to experiment engages employees and also creates a pipeline of fresh ideas that ultimately will lead to new products, projects, or enhancements.

An innovation platform. Innovation has gone social at many companies, with online forums that ask employees to contribute fresh ideas and invite colleagues to vote and comment on the ideas they are most enthusiastic about. When ideas hit a critical mass, they are lobbed to a crossfunctional innovation committee that vets the ideas for implementation.

In an innovation culture, great ideas aren’t seen as random or fortuitous developments, but rather as opportunities that are consciously encouraged and vetted. With an innovative approach to innovation, organizations can develop the innovation capabilities of all employees.

Communication in innovation cultures invites employees to act and think like stakeholders. When employees can see beyond their job roles and departmental functions, they can begin to contemplate where and how their ideas can contribute to the company’s overall goals.

Collaboration Cultures of innovation recognize the inherent (if at times latent) abilities of all employees to contribute to the ideas, disruptions, and enhancements that will drive the business forward. A culture of innovation fundamentally differs in approach – innovation is believed to be the result of inclusivity, engagement, and collaboration, and not the purview of a select few. When every employee is thought of and treated as a potential innovator, organizations structure ways for employees to collaborate.

Coordination Great workplaces do not just hire great talent and sit back to wait for the innovation to occur. Rather, they enable innovation by coordinating innovation efforts throughout the organization. For many companies, this means developing


Creating a Culture of Innovation

Continued from page 11

Create an “innovation team.” Great workplaces take a team approach to innovation, whether it is through an inherently collaborative work environment or a specifically developed initiative such as an innovation team. Ideas take on new life and more rapidly transition to the point of implementation when a diversity and breadth of thinking are brought to the table.

set you back about $4. This makes you stop and think before you push the button. Talk about best practices with immediate impact! 5. Take small steps to change the culture and make the innovation a habit that brings results. We’re more likely to make change happen in small increments. This isn’t about getting someone to go straight from Cheetos and Coke to a strict vegan diet. But if we could help him move one notch, make one little upgrade, it makes an impact. Potentially, it could change his life, his children’s lives, and his entire community – just with one little step.

Coaching. To ensure that people continue to contribute to innovation efforts, it’s important that a discarded idea is always accompanied by a “why.” Companies with particularly evolved innovation cultures place a lot of emphasis on this area. Doing so validates the employee contribution, invites them to continue their contributions, and cultivates a better eye for developing an idea that better feeds business objectives.

Innovation needs to be supported by companies, from the top down to its family of employees. When leaders just do that one thing to change how their businesses operate, they move along that continuum. If you start with a passion to help people re-establish a connection with what they’re consuming that leads them to care, that’s the first step in the “eat better, feel better, do better” chain that brings results. For your company, get people to care about your innovation. And then watch for the results.

The belief that every employee is valuable and that every idea gets better when a diversity of opinions is expressed resides at the core of innovation cultures. If innovation is an area of opportunity for your company, let the three Cs guide you toward a more inclusive, collaborative approach to idea generation.

Molly Reams Thompson is the founder of Feeding Creativity LLC, and is committed to changing how we feed and educate our communities by creating nourishing, nurturing, and engaging environments. A book she co-wrote, I Am Diva: Every Woman’s Guide to Outrageous Living (Warner), guides women through the art of living passionately and was her catalyst to discover and tap into her own passion for food advocacy.

Leslie drives key conversations with leaders interested in building or sustaining great workplaces and believes Great Place to Work® is the best place for her. Since 2006 she has served as Events Manager, Marketing Manager, and Communications Director. She thirsts for knowledge (and wine) and loves reading about workplace dynamics, attributes of leaders, the power of intention, and Native cultures of the American Southwest. With an MA and BA in history from Brown and Vassar respectively, she’s grateful to have a “real” job. For more information on Leslie and Great Place to Work®, go to:




World’s 25 Most

Innovative Companies*

For stoking insatiable, year-round demand for professional football


 For walking the talk


 For 800 million reasons to share


For expanding its hit lineup


 For playing the long game


 For making magic out of the mercantile


For amplifying the global dialogue


Occupy Movement
 For embodying all the traits that make a Fast Company

. 72andSunny For winning at the intersection of Hollywood and Madison Avenue


 For fueling China’s Internet boom – and boldly moving West

 Siemens AG 
For its R&D ambitions in energy, transportation, and health care


Life Technologies 
For speeding up genetic sequencing

 For transforming file storage into a very big business

 For brightening up the sun-power business

 Kiva Systems
 For turning squat robots into e-commerce giants

. National Marrow Donor Program 
For matching technology with critical transplant needs
 ( 17
. Greenbox
 For inventing the next-generation Chinese fashion brand
 ( 18
. Jawbone 
For rocking the mobile lifestyle
 ( 19
. Airbnb 
For turning spare rooms into the world’s hottest hotel chain

11. HBO For being the only TV network to delight with digital

For infusing a steady stream of new ideas to revive its business

. Southern New Hampshire University For relentlessly reinventing higher ed, online and off

25. Genentech
 For making targeted, genetics-based cancer therapies

13. Tesla Motors
 For boosting the art and technology of electric vehicles

*Fast Company online,

For selling more by encouraging customers to buy less
 ( 14

Creating a Culture of Innovation

Continued from page 3

10 Signs that You’ve Got an Innovation Dysfunction •

People laugh at new ideas.

Innovative Companies Act Differently So how do innovative organizations differ? In these organizations:

Someone who identifies a problem is shunned.

Ideas flow freely throughout the organization.

Innovation is the privileged practice of a special group.

Subversion is a virtue.

The phrase, “You can’t do that because we’ve always done it this way” is used for every new idea.

Success and failure are championed.

No one can remember the last time anyone did anything really cool.

There are many leaders who encourage innovative thinking – not just managers who run a bureaucracy.

People think innovation is about R&D.

People have convinced themselves that competing on price is normal.

There are creative champions throughout the organization – people who thrive on thinking about how to do things differently.

Ideas get approval and endorsement.

The organization is focused more on process than success.

Rather than stating, “It can’t be done,” people ask, “How could we do this?”

There are lots of Baby Boomers around, and few people younger than 25.

After any type of surprise — product, market, industry, or organizational change — everyone sits back and asks, “Wow, where did that come from?”

People know that in addition to R&D, innovation is also about ideas for how to run the business better, grow the business, and transform the business.

The word “innovation” is found in most job descriptions as a primary area of responsibility, and a percentage of annual remuneration is based on achievement of explicitly defined innovation goals.

The fact is that every organization should be able to develop innovation as a core virtue. If they aren’t doing that, they certainly won’t survive the rapid rate of change that envelops us today. Jim Carroll is a leading international futurist, trends and innovation expert, with a client list that ranges from Northrop Grumman to the Walt Disney organization. For more information, go to



News and Events Gary Magenta, Root, will be conducting a workshop for the San Diego area SHRM chapters March 27 & 28. Visit Root in Booth 15 at the Association of Change Management Professionals Conference, April 1-4 in Las Vegas Root will also be at ASTD ICE in Booth 1306 at the Denver Convention Center, May 6-9, Root Compass Manager Development Open Buyer Session, May 24 in NYC. See for more information. Jeff Austin, Pioneer, a DuPont Business, and Jim Haudan, Root, will present at The Conference Board: Extending Your Brand to Your Employees Conference, June 19 & 20, NYC, Angela Shafer-Payne, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, and Gary Magenta, Root, will speak at The Conference Board: Change Management Conference, June 21 & 22, NYC,

Watercooler Sketches Need an insightful, interactive experience for your team, department meeting, or annual conference? Check out our Watercooler Kits!  We use the Watercooler™ sketches from previous newsletters to create a kit that includes a large version of the sketch, dialogue for conversation, and a guide to help you facilitate the experience.

The next issue of the Watercooler newsletter is May/June.

Creating A Culture of Innovation  

According to a 2010 study by Booz & Co., total Global R&D was $1.15 Trillion. And in an increasingly competitive landscape, innovation is cr...