Innovation By All: Better All Around

Innovation By All: Better All Around

A final, happy note about the new flight plan for innovation: the benefits go beyond your business results. Innovation By All also is better for people and for the world. Tapping everyone’s ingenuity, creativity and passion leads to new products and services that can advance society. Inventions, dating back to the development of the wheel, have always had this positive potential. But Innovation By All practiced in organization after organization means the human race can accelerate toward a better future. It’s as if the mind-flocks we see at Nvidia, Quicken Loans and other companies become intertwined and global in nature. With individuals everywhere noticing problems and proposing solutions, our species can adapt and elevate as never before.

Consider the Empathy Generator. Inspired by the idea of assisting customers with disabilities, Olya Kenney and Quicken Loans are paving the way for many more organizations to develop inclusive ways of interacting online. This, in turn, promises to enable more people to reach their potential and contribute to the community. “This idea has this benefit to humanity that goes beyond helping a small number of people or one company,” Kenney says. “It actually has this ability to transform society, to make people understand and learn differently.”

Or look at how Nvidia’s technology is helping to find cures to tough medical maladies, including cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. And it is enabling robotics to advance in ways that minimize injuries to people. Because Nvidia’s hardware and software allow for such accurate simulations of reality, computers can experiment with virtual robots. These artificial yet realistic environments allow for massive numbers of the experiments that enable machine learning and eventually robots that are ready to interact safely with human beings.

Advanced robotics offers the promise of vast gains in productivity and improved standards of living for people. Even now, though, the people at companies practicing Innovation By All are benefiting in important ways. Opportunities to innovate are fundamentally about having a measure of power at work. They are chances to exercise autonomy, to be creative. Our research shows a close correlation between the frequency of people’s meaningful innovation opportunities and the extent to which they call their workplace great. This data dovetails with other studies finding that a sense of control over work is vital to people’s wellbeing. Experts estimate that workplaces in which people lack decision-making power and experience other elements of poor management contribute to roughly 120,000 premature deaths annually in the United States.

The companies we are profiling in this series show that Innovation By All is positive for people. Nvidia’s employees for example, also are thriving. Fully 86 percent of them say the company has a psychologically healthy culture, and 93 percent call it a great place to work.

Take Rev Lebaredian. He’s like a kid in a high-tech candy store. He got his professional start in the Hollywood world of computer-generated imagery, and says his career at Nvidia has been a thriller of one new opportunity after the next. “Every time I’ve thought about leaving, or the thought even crossed my mind, there’s some new awesome thing that I never thought I would ever be involved in,” Lebaredian says.

It’s not just the new awesome thing. It’s also the way that Lebaredian and his Nvidian colleagues are able to rapidly reorganize themselves to swoop in. Lebaredian says the company is full of people who have been together for many years, who trust each other, who communicate quickly and who can collaborate effectively. “We end up sticking here because there’s this network effect, and we have a shorthand between each other” he explains. “The lack of divisions makes it very easy for someone like me who’s been here for a long time, if I need something from another group, I could just call up the guy or send an email. And without having to explain much, there’s trust between us and we can share resources and work together to solve this problem.”

In other words, flocking has become almost instinctual at Nvidia—and it is fun. “If another company were to come in, offer me three times more than what I’m making today, I couldn’t leave because I know if I went there, I wouldn’t have this,” he says. “I’d be throwing away this foundation that I built here, and the whole company has this.”

No wonder Nvidia is winging its way to new heights these days. On the strength of its Innovation By All culture, don’t expect it to come down anytime soon.

Bringing Innovation By All to Your Organization

If your company is like most, it still has opportunity to get even better at maximizing the full potential of each and every one of its employees. So how does it go about getting better? The first step is getting a better handle on where your organization is today. Have your company’s employees complete Great Place to Work’s Trust Index© survey and then subscribe to the rest of our Innovation Insights series to learn more about how to create an Innovation By All culture. 


Ed Frauenheim