Innovative Culture - Spring2 Innovation

Innovative Culture

December 16, 2011

Why is it that Jack Dorsey, Founder of Twitter and Square, can run two companies at the same time? I am not even going into the question of how some people create innovative company after company.  In a recent article I read that he divides the days of the week so that he covers one area a day (ie. Monday Management meetings and “running the company” work).  After working 8 hours at Twitter he walks over to Foursquare for another 8 hour day covering the same areas but for the second company. Interestingly Friday is reserved for the company and its culture.

Running two successful companies at the same time and one day a week is reserved in each company for the company and its culture. Wow!

For those that are unfamiliar with Square, it is a hardware device you plug into mobile phone and it allows users to accept credit cards on their phone. The name is derived from the shape of the device.  They make their money by taking a percentage of the transaction

I think the innovative mindset is seen here in full force. He is doing a number of things that others have said can’t be done.  At the moment, Square as a concept is something that the rest of the mobile payment industry have been grappling for years (and in many ways still is).  Then to go about running the two companies at the same time is another feat that hasn’t been done often. He is figured out how to overcome societal objections to do things that haven’t been done before.

How can we adopt this mind set in our companies and in the way we go through life? First thing that pops to my mind is how important he sees culture as part of the business success – in both companies. How much are you talking and doing something about the culture in your environment? Make a point of putting culture in at least as an area to discuss – on its own – at the next strategy retreat or board meeting. There were probably a number of fear in Jack Dorsey’s mind as he made the decision to head two active companies but fear did not get in his way.

Oddly enough, this brings to mind the children’s book/ show series Bob the Builder – Can we do it? Yes we can. Bob is creating and trying to teach a can do attitude to his crew and to the children reading the books. How can we proliferate the innovation culture and attitude in our companies in a similar way? By reinforcing how important innovation is and not letting fear drive our decisions.  How do you show your company that innovation is important or that it is alright to fail (hopefully fail quickly) and learn from it.

At the same time, I wonder how much impact the age of the companies and the folks leading and working in the companies effects there ability to create an innovative culture. Two previous colleagues over the summer indicated to me that they were looking to detox from the corporate culture they were in. They needed time to bring the creativity and the passion back into their work and their lives. Both having worked in large, long standing,  organizations where creativity and innovation had a hard time flourishing – lip service was being paid to innovation but the actions did not align with what was being said at the top. Make innovation part of the culture rather than another buzz word being thrown around.