4 Ways To Tune Up Your Innovation Engine [VIDEO]

Shelly Dutton

2016 is shaping up to be another huge year for innovation. Whether it’s a new site geared towards millennials, Keurig-inspired delivery of juice, or a total reimagination of computing and app development, more ideas are becoming profitable realities in record numbers, thanks to the help of incubators, accelerator programs, Web-based collaborative platforms, and events designed to connect venture capitalists with innovators.

Let’s face it: New startups seem to pop up out of nowhere by the hour. How can any business ever keep up with the influx of ideas and disruption? Maintaining a competitive edge is not just about staying ahead of the competition and impending change – it’s about survival. But is it a forgone conclusion that businesses will run out of steam one day?

Although there are some industries that love to remix the old and sprinkle in something new, it does not mean that we cannot innovate anymore. We are just innovating differently. Businesses are no longer solely focused on return on investment and profits. There is also an element of return on human capital and social good.

For business leaders, this is quite a shift. Churchill Club recently acknowledged four of the most innovative companies in Silicon Valley how we all can move full steam ahead in 2016.

1. Know when irrepressible vision is in your midst and nurture it

Innovation lesson: Your next innovator can be anyone – regardless of age, degree, experience, or position. Find them, embrace them, and give them a chance to succeed. And by the way, be prepared to work for them one day.

What happens when you combine an unstoppable spirit with a dream that no one else has imagined? In Elizabeth Holmes’ case, it’s an opportunity to change how the world and our thinking around access to healthcare information.

The future of CEO of Theranos entered Stanford University at the age of 19 not to earn a degree, but for an opportunity to make her vision become a reality. Stanford professor Channing Robertson saw this unquenchable spirit in Holmes and decided to do the unthinkable for someone so young – a chance and a willingness to partner with her.

Find out what drives Elizabeth Holmes to continue her mission despite a series of rejections and how Robertson came to the realization that his student had incredible potential.

2. Guide collaborative breakthroughs for irresistible products – every time

Innovation lesson: A “fearless culture” empowers people  to explore new areas, identify uncharted pathways, and move forward.

Creativity. Collaboration. Learning. Process. Interception of knowledge and technology. Pixar Animation Studios is a study of what happens when all of these things are combined to solve a particular problem.

Pixar Animation Studios is known for its acclaimed animated features and short films such as Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Cars, Brave, Inside Out, and more recently The Good Dinosaur. The studio has received 15 Academy Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, and 11 Grammy Awards, among many other awards and acknowledgments. What does Ed Catmull, founder and president of Pixar, attribute to this success? For him, it’s all about the culture, the people, and the company’s attitude towards failure, trust, recognition, and creativity.

Hear Ed Catmull’s advice on how every business can create a culture that not only capitalize on innovative ideas, but also nurtures them.

3. Change how things are done and viewed – and never look back

Innovation lesson: Know how your technology impacts people’s lives and provides services that address their evolving needs.

For nearly 400 million people in 22 countries, it takes a community to build a career and create opportunities – thanks to LinkedIn. What was originally the brainchild of a few guys in a living room ten years ago is now a global business with a market value of $26 billion. With a simple idea of making personal connections in a digital network to guide people in their professional lives, LinkedIn has created an indispensable technology that has changed how people find a job, hire talent, and find information.

To make the leap from a small company in a particular region to the global stage across industries, the company makes a point to become an expert how every segment of the LinkedIn community uses the network. Whether it’s an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, a pipe fitter in Shanghai, a student in Berlin, or a retiree in Israel, LinkedIn provides choices and opportunities to allow people to fulfill each person’s needs.

Listen to Alan Blue, co-founder of LinkedIn, as he discusses how the business continues to evolve and change the efficiency of global labor markets.

4. Make inspirational leadership part of the magic

Innovation lesson: Being a company spokesperson and handing down orders is one responsibility. However, taking the time to mentor and nurture the leadership of the next generation turns a leadership into an inspirational force and an enigma for generations to come.

Worldwide, CEOs are often looked at as giants, larger than life, and even envied. However, very few are regarded as good teachers and students. In the case of Andy Grove, former chairman and CEO of Intel, he was both. Throughout his career, he had a knack for mentoring and guiding up-and-coming entrepreneurs and leaders in the technology industry so they can help advance an industry that he built. More important, he displayed genuine care and concern for everyone he met and interacted with.

Check out the highlights of Grove’s career, showcasing why his leadership is so inspirational to everyone inside – and outside – Intel.

Watch the 5th Annual Churchill ceremony for the full interviews.