Jo Geraghty


There’s more to culture than innovation

Date added: 21st Jan 2013
Category: Innovation Culture

The 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has been and gone in a cloud of gadgetry and imagination.  As attendees shake the Las Vegas dust out of their boots and  marvel at the wonders which they have seen the IT, phone, electronics and gadgetry companies are already hard at work on next year’s wonders.

With just short of 2 million square feet of exhibition space CES 2013 broke all records, accommodating 150,000 visitors who were left reeling at the 20,000 new products on show.   Whilst major players such as Sony and Samsung took top billing with the launch of major new products, the show also played host to scores of new companies, looking to break into the consumer electronics market for the first time.  So whilst gamers enjoyed the sight of Nvidia’s Product Shield and TV watchers marvelled at the Panasonic 56-inch 4K OLED TV, fitness fanatics could sharpen up with the help of the FitBit Flex.


Does the world need the ipotty?

CES wouldn’t be the success it is without the addition of some handy gadgets which will either take off exponentially or languish on the pages of the gadgets catalogue which seems to arrive at Christmas time.  Busy working parents like us will either love or hate the idea of the iPotty (essentially a potty with a built in iPad stand) as we try to toilet train our children whilst avid travellers may pounce on GlobaTrac, a handy device which sits in your luggage and tells your phone via Bluetooth which airport it has been diverted to.

The fork that tells us when we’re eating too fast

One of the hits of CES 2013 was the launch of the world’s first smart fork.  Working on the basis that the slower we eat the better it is for us this French invention vibrates and flashes an orange warning light when it detects us eating too fast.  Then once the meal is over the fork uploads data to a smartphone app which helps keep track of eating habits.

In truth, in this fast-paced life it is a shame that there aren’t more gadgets to warn us when we are going too fast for our own good. Just think how handy it would be for a warning light to start flashing when we take on just one too many tasks or when our business starts growing so fast that we are in danger of losing sight of the founding principles.

In fact, this last example is an ever-present danger within the technology world.  One minute you are sitting in a garden shed tossing ideas around with a couple of friends, the next you have a staff of hundreds and a global market.  Along the way you have acquired innovators and enablers who are driving the business forward exponentially.  The trouble is that you also have to hire accountants and other staff who might not be on the same innovative wavelength.  It’s one thing to play with ideas, quite another to play with the figures.

Make sure your culture is ready to cope with rapid growth

Perhaps we should stop here and make one thing clear.  We’re not advocating that technology companies slow down their growth.  Quite the contrary, when an idea catches the market’s imagination it is important to drive forward with it as much as possible.  But at the same time as the business is expanding there needs to be some form of moderating factor which keeps track of the original culture and makes sure it is not overwhelmed by the sheer pace of growth and new employees.  At the same time it is important to foster a culture which draws the best out of everyone, not just the innovators.  Every person who interacts with the business will add to and modify the culture and it is vital for the long term success of the business that that culture stays focused and strong.

Of course, the culture will, of necessity, modify over time.  What works for two people will not necessarily work when two thousand are involved.  But the essence of the original culture, the vision, needs to stay on track to prevent the attack of the silo mentality and the loss of the innovation spirit.

Culture touches business from supplier to customer

Some of the exhibitors at CES 2013 may disappear without trace, others may become household names but whatever the outcome it is important for those businesses to remember that the culture of their business touches everyone from suppliers to clients via every employee and that sticking to a culture which is just for the innovators may not be the best in the long run.

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