Google Cloud

Three essential initiators for building a culture of innovation

Global research on innovation shows that innovation is critical for an organizations’ growth. Especially in current unpredictable times, innovation has become more crucial to an organization’s survival than ever. However, 54% of executives are struggling to align innovation strategy with their business strategy, resulting in 72% of executives saying they are not out-innovating their competitors. So how do you build and cultivate an effective culture of innovation to allow for growth? We believe that innovation is enabled through three fundamental factors: a culture of openness, data, and room for mistakes. We would like to tell you more about it and show you how you can out-change the world.

Openness and collaboration

We at Google believe that we must rethink how people, structures, and processes interact every day. Think about it: employees outnumber executives in almost every scenario; inevitably, they’ll develop more disruptive ideas than management. So it’s good for staff to be aware of and engaged in C-Level plans and strategies. Teams can nurture innovative ideas aiming at the right objectives. Therefore, openness and collaboration are vital for creating a culture of innovation that boosts the entire organization.

Vinton G. Cerf, our Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist explains how we implement openness and engagement. “We perform a number of different measurements—for example, encouraging everyone to participate in an anonymous employee satisfaction survey every year. That data and that feedback loop facilitate our decisions to change how we’re doing things, as needed.” Like we do in our annual survey, you can use Google Analytics to gain insight into your employees’ opinions and ideas. With applications like Looker, a real-time data platform, these insights can be shared and accessed by teams whenever and wherever they are. Research has shown that having access to real-time data helps teams reach higher levels of productivity and innovation. With constant accessibility of comprehensible visualizations of the most important data, your teams can shift their action into a direction they know needs innovative solutions.

“We measure everything. All the data we gather is extremely valuable, because it exposes problems faster than if we simply scratched our heads and wondered”

— Vinton G. Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google


Openness and collaboration are thus essential to innovation, and become specifically powerful when combined with data-driven technology and decision making. That’s why measurement is at the heart of everything we do at Google. Vinton G. Cerf explains: “We measure everything—from how our systems are running, to how productive we are, to how people are feeling. All the data we gather is extremely valuable, because it exposes problems faster than if we simply scratched our heads and wondered.”

Researchers found that business analytics help to enhance innovation because employees become more aware and capable of scanning and recognizing opportunities. Using Google Analytics, BigQuery, and Looker allows you to automatically store, visualize and share this data. As such, these tools free up time, creating room for innovation while assuring that new ideas are grounded in real-time data, solving real-time problems.

Celebrating failure

Although having open access to crucial data and working together is extremely important, it doesn’t automatically make you innovative. “You have to have the willingness to allow failure and have the freedom to try things out without absolute certainty of success,” says Vinton G. Cerf. At Google, we try out many things that don’t work, but we learn from them and refine our practices without blaming someone for the mistakes they made. This encourages a culture of innovation because it stimulates people to experiment and think outside the box, allowing them to find innovative solutions. 

Building a culture of innovation creates the opportunity to develop new ideas for improvements, new products, and innovative services. Above all, it enables employees to work together to improve collaboration and innovate more quickly.