The Machinery of Innovation
Play • 34 min
The Secret

We have to admire the bravery of those entrepreneurs on Shark Tank. They put their life savings, mortgages, and reputations on the line for the chance to launch a winning idea or innovative product. In a sea of products and services, they see themselves as uniquely capable of serving the need. But, how do they feel sure that they are the ones to disrupt an industry or to make the sales happen?

Aside from the passion and grit, there are behind the scenes resources like EnventysPartners. Enventys Partners is a firm that combines product development and marketing services to help entrepreneurs, startups, and enterprise companies quickly bring their innovative products to the market. They’ve helped entrepreneurs raise over $175,000,000 using crowdfunding while advising global startups on digital marketing and growth. Among those clients are 18 entrepreneurs who have gone on to win partnerships from each of the Sharks and guest Sharks. Because his company consistently brings viable partnerships to the show, President and Co-Founder Roy Morejon has a direct line to the show’s producers.

However, to keep helping startups and inventors move their ideas, Morejon needs to foster that creativity in his own employees and culture. To glean insight into how an innovation leader navigates his own success, Bruce Holoubek, owner of Contracted Leadership, and Host of The Development Exponent Podcast talks to Morejon, exploring several key questions that include, how his innovators stay productively creative, what makes meaningful career, and what methods or tools he uses in his own company to achieve the rapid growth and success that has earned them regular features on CNN, Forbes, and Huffington Post.

The Joy of the Why

It’s amazing to be the first people outside of the entrepreneurs' friends and family that have the opportunity to review the product idea and help them through the process of potentially bringing that idea to the market. Seeing the idea come from a napkin sketch, to making the molds or building out and doing the engineering and prototype work, to building out the assets, then running a campaign and having millions of people back the products, is the exhilarating joy of participating in the evolution of a startup.

On the other side of that joy, is the heaviness of telling inventors that “the baby is ugly.” Most of the entrepreneurs' friends won’t tell them the full truth, so we have to step in and have that uncomfortable conversation. This either leads to finding ways to improve the product or idea, or to advising the entrepreneur to sell the idea to a company that is already being successful with a very similar thing.

The How

Purposeful work environments are led by and enshrined in their core values. Core values define who we are as leaders and what we look for in employees, and have to be present in each new team member that joins the team. The values that prove to work as the fertile soil for in the startup space are:

  • Fun. Enjoy working with each other.
  • Assured. Have confidence in what we do. Innovative, we can apply ourselves to overcome obstacles.
  • Reputable. Don’t use black hat tactics or cut corners.
  • Passionate. Believe in the mission of the company and believe in the mission of our work.
  • Agile. Wear many hats and pitch in to help the whole team when needed.

The results, of course, come from practice. A system that ensures that people throughout the organization are keeping these values top of mind is key. Part of that system are tools that foster thoughtful communication. Morejon uses Slack internally for communications within and between the teams. Everything has a channel. Into Slack he has incorporated Bonusly. Through Bonusly each employee receives 20 points that they can give to each other for embodying the core values.

For example, there is a channel called Feedback through which a team member can comment that another team member did a great job with getting the news letter out, and then mark it with a hashtag that applies to a core value, such as #innovative or #agile. Everybody can see this channel throughout the company and across teams. They can see what each person and team is doing and see what values are being noted. At the end of the month managers can go in and see who is the top reputable individual, what core values they are being assigned, and then they reward that person with a monetary bonus.

This engagement with core values translates into employees' personal lives as much as it aids in professional development. Everyone likes to be recognized and acknowledged, and it feeds into their motivation. We as bosses can see what our employees are working for. Are they doing what they want to be doing? Are they happy with their work? Are they being effective communicators? Are they using the channels often? We can have insight into these things through tools like Bonusly and get ahead of issues before they become too big, or we can steer someone towards a position they’d rather be in, or support a larger personal goal.

Connecting Through Growth

When a company is growing rapidly, there are more needs to pay attention to and it can be hard to keep an employee involved through all growth. But this is where communication is key. The way to achieve this is by having more frequent check-ins for establishing baselines. Ask your employees questions about how their lives are going, and if there is anything new. Then try to focus on if there is anything they are worried about or if there are any rumors they’ve heard, and ask how things are with their relationships, such as family or co-workers. End the conversation by focusing on their career goals. Ask if they feel they are achieving their career goals, and then, set goals for your next interaction-- things to focus on. In this way you act as an advisor and support person. When you have an open ear to the personal lives as well as professional goals of your employees, you can become a partner in their growth, and growth feeds invention and creativity.

Creative Killed the AI Star

Robots are doing so much work these days and are becoming more creative because they can scale. Give them a movie and they can pull out every single snapshot of what that picture is or what's happening there but they're not the best at writing or getting into the nuances of a scene. They can describe color or size of a product, but not why we need it. They don’t understand the intuitive connection-- and that is what we need when we are launching a product.

We need human creatives who understand how to write about a product that it will make your life better. As we move to the future, robots will take over the more route or repetitive jobs, but people who are creative will take on the roles of leadership. It’s not spoken about enough-- but creativity is a leadership requirement.

Creative leaders are the ones who can conceive the solutions for tomorrow. This is where innovation truly comes into play, where you have the ability to solve problems with relevancy and novelty. Because of this, creativity is one of the most important skills in the that emerging leaders must have. Though it may be an innate skill for some, it can also be a learned and developed skill.

Your emerging leaders as well as your season executives can benefit tremendously from creative development. Workshops and tools that improve creative thinking are gaining popularity in recent years, and are showing fascinatingly positive results. One highly acclaimed tool is The Second City Works improvisation workshop. You can read about it in Kelly Leonard’s Book,  Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses "No, But" Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration--Lessons from The Second City You can also watch Kelly Leonard’s Ted Talk, Learning Lesson Through Improv.

Finally, it’s encouraging to remember that creativity lives in different abilities within us. For some, it may be the way they design and connect systems, for some it may be visual art, while for others it may be the way they understand customer motivation and design incentivization. It really depends on the lens you look through. Overall, creativity keeps your teams inventive, agile, and able to think over obstacles, and that is something every business can use.

Tweet This/LinkedIn Share That

#Creative leaders are the ones who can conceive the solutions for tomorrow. This is where innovation truly comes into play, where you have the ability to solve problems with relevancy and novelty. Because of this, creativity is one of the most important skills in the that emerging leaders must have. #levelupyourleadership #leadership #contractleaders

As we move to the #future, robots will take over the more route or repetitive jobs, but people who are creative will take on the roles of leadership. It’s not spoken about enough-- but creativity is a leadership requirement. #levelupyourleadership #leadership #contractleaders

#Write Write down your goals to have a vivid vision for everything-- especially for your business goals. Don't be a rudderless ship, make sure you plot your course. #levelupyourleadership #leadership #contractleaders

#Fail Failure is an educational experience that didn’t go your way. Take those experiences and learn from them. #levelupyourleadership #leadership #contractleaders

#Grow Go and grow your network early and always be growing your knowledge. Open your mind and constantly challenge yourself because people don't know how much you know until they know how much you care. Groth is a critical component in life. #levelupyourleadership #leadership #contractleaders

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