Next time your hear someone couching innovation in terms of
complex processes, jargon, and esoteric management theories, challenge them
with this simple question: how do you plan to enable people here to
enjoy their work?
The more I learn about innovation, the more I believe that the
organizations who innovate year over year over year are those who treat
people well, who build cultures where enjoying one’s work — routinely reaching a state of flow — is not the exception, but the rule. If you want
to be sustainably innovative, these places teach us, then solve for
human happiness. Think JetBlue. Gore. Honda.
Or even Ferrari. Ferrari, the grandest brand in the world, red speed
incarnate. Because it operates within the byzantine world of Formula 1
racing, where teams spend upwards of $200 million per season to design,
build and campaign two tiny cars around the globe, Ferrari could easily
be a nasty, brutish place to work. But it isn’t, and therein lies the
secret to its formidable record of victory: helping its people get into flow.
Jean Todt, the scuderia’s leader, says this about his approach to culture:
People will give their best at work if they are happy. If people respect their co-workers, both professionally and personally, they will want them to be happy too, and will help each other when there are problems.
Could enjoyment really equal innovation? Yes. It’s as simple (but
difficult) a proposition as this: to innovate well, treat your people well.