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Create a culture of innovation by embracing the start-up mindset

Start-up companies have great advantages because of their close-knit atmosphere. Because they work together in a small team, each employee carries significant weight for the company – personally touching each success and failure. The incentive for innovation is high and their contribution to success is clear.

But when a company grows, each new employee means the workload is distributed more broadly. After a certain amount of growth, individuals don’t feel personally responsible for driving innovation. A creative lethargy can spread to create a heads-down culture narrowly focusing on tasks.

To maintain your innovative edge while growing, these lessons from start-up culture can prove invaluable.

Define Your Values

Think about the values of the most innovative large companies. Google improves the web experience. Facebook helps you be social. IBM makes business easier. Each is rooted in a simple goal with infinite solutions. Their core values all point to one thing – creating better methods. Using the company’s values as a guide, each employee is empowered to think about new ideas, suggest changes, and implement them.

So what are your company’s values? What guides your internal and external solutions? Every employee should know the values by heart to help grow their contribution.

Create the Right Atmosphere

Ever wonder why you can get so much work done on a plane? Or why a great idea pops into your head during a relaxing Saturday instead of in the heat of a business meeting? It’s the atmosphere. The plane helps you focus by removing distractions. The weekend takes you away from the stressful workplace atmosphere, giving you a new perspective.

Companies can make simple changes to their offices to create atmospheres designed to produce innovation. Build a quiet room that employees can reserve for focus sessions. Start meetings with a quick game. Have a meeting at a nearby park. The possibilities are endless.

Have Fun

Jack Foster, a creative director with over 35 years experience, wrote in his book How to Get Ideas:

“I always knew which team would come up with the best ideas, the best ads, the best television commercials, the best billboards. It was the team that was having the most fun.”

Business may be a serious matter, but ideas aren’t. To get ideas, people need to have the freedom to smile, joke, and laugh. This atmosphere needs to start with the CEO and be championed by every level below.

Imagine a job where thinking of new ideas is fun and everyone gets to do it. Sounds a lot like a start-up, right? With the right values, atmosphere and attitude, any company can harness the innovative power of start-ups. 



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Tim Brouillette, UHY LLP

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