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How To Create A Culture Where The Best Ideas Win

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People are still arguing over who said  “culture eats strategy for lunch,” and as intelligent a comment as it is, I think we’ve reached a point in modern business development where we can take the statement further. If anything, great culture and strategy are natural byproducts of each other. Your culture fuels your strategy naturally, and the successes from execution on said strategy strengthen your culture. It may not be obvious, but culture is one of the most powerful internal business development techniques.

I also believe that the greatest business culture is one that isn’t reliant on politics or hierarchy but on great ideas. It requires a culture that accepts ideas from every part of your business and recognizes individuals while working as a group. Here’s what I’ve learned is necessary to create a culture that fosters, rewards and empowers itself through great ideas.

Listen To Everyone: Remove The Hierarchy Of Ideas

The most successful companies understand that anyone in the organization, not just the executive team, can have ideas that can change the company for the better. While having a “flat” organization may not work, creating a flat ideas economy in the business will add unbelievable strength to your company. One of your in-the-trenches, customer-facing staff will have totally different experiences and possibly better ideas than someone focused entirely on e-commerce. Everyone’s ideas should be systematically appreciated, and the greatest ones should be rewarded.

Systematize The Process Of Gathering Ideas

In our company, we empower and encourage all employees to have a voice, so we provide a company-wide messaging channel that’s safe for anyone to ask questions and share ideas or opinions. We meet once a week to discuss which ideas are best and put a transparent plan of implementation together. Never fall into the trap of just assuming an employee will naturally come to you. Enforce a culture that says “your ideas aren’t just appreciated, they’re necessary,” and systematically solicit them.

Understand The Personalities Behind Your Ideas, And Cater To Them

Salesforce’s Marc Benioff famously said to put the lives of your employees first, and part of doing so is to understand that not everybody is going to be as outgoing with their ideas as others. This means that within your systematization or even implementation of ideas, more introverted staff may not feel comfortable speaking up, or they may feel overwhelmed by more dominant personalities. Make sure that they are given the floor to deliver an idea in a way that makes them comfortable so you won’t miss out.

Empower, Reward And Implement The Best Ideas

Employee satisfaction isn’t just hearing how great they are but seeing their ideas taken from concept to planning to execution. When a great idea surfaces, one that can change the company, work with and honor the individual or group that came up with it. Make them part of the planning process (even if they usually wouldn’t be), and reward them fiscally and with team- or company-wide recognition. One of the most empowering feelings is being taken seriously and another is being included. Embedding that in your culture is rocket fuel for your company growth and employee happiness.

In The End, Reward Those Who Think Customer-First

In our company, we ultimately decide which idea wins based on its potential to bring value to our customers and make their experience with our brand a memorable one. This can be multi-faceted, of course — you want to reward those who deliver value to the team and the company — but if changes internally can exponentially increase our customers’ happiness, that’s another great idea.

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