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The 8 Cultural Characteristics That Make Google a Great Innovator

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New Study Reveals that a Great Workplace Culture Propels Innovation at Google

leslie_caccamese_wframeA recent study published by Annika Steiber of Chalmers University of Technology, outlines the elements of Google’s organisational design that contribute to their success at innovation. Steiber’s findings affirm the role of trust and a strong workplace culture in creating an environment where innovation can thrive. 

The full text of Steiber’s thesis will likely be of great interest to OD professionals curious how this new research relates to the larger body of theoretical work on issues of culture and innovation. However, for those of you looking for a concise summary of the cultural components that create this ideal environment for innovation, here is a summary of the 8 organisational characteristics Steiber identified:

  1. An innovation-oriented, change-prone culture
  2. Competent and committed employees who are passionate about innovating
  3. Leaders who demonstrate a high degree of trust and see their role as to empower, coach, and remove obstacles
  4. A non-bureaucratic organisation
  5. An innovation-oriented recognition and incentive system
  6. An attitude and body of people dedicated to continuous learning
  7. Top leadership that is similarly committed to being innovation-oriented and change-prone
  8. And a belief that new and good ideas can come from anyone, anywhere

While #1 Best Company to Work For, Google, certainly displays these characteristics in abundance, we see many of the Best Workplaces with similar attitudes which we recently wrote about in Root Learning’s WaterCooler newsletter. Great workplaces have an open, share anything mindset, and believe that good ideas can come from anyone within the organisation; this foundation helps contribute to higher levels of innovation or the ability to find opportunities so often demonstrated by the Best Workplaces.

One thing to note is the strategic role that HR plays in creating and facilitating a culture of innovation.  Hiring, training, cultural onboarding, recognition & rewards, even health and well-being programs are critical to attracting and retaining these innovation-oriented, lifetime learners, who can thrive in an ever-changing and non-bureaucratic environment. Building a high-trust work environment and a great workplace culture lays the foundation for sustaining a culture of innovation.

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