Innovation is a critical component for a company’s success in today’s hyper-competitive world. But what makes a company truly innovative? Can innovation be designed and integrated into a company’s structure?Designing a company to be innovative is a result of both a company’s cultural climate and physical environment.
Milliken & Company Vice President of Research and Development Chris Desoiza believes that “Innovation isn’t just the thing, it is everything.” He notes that being an innovative company begins with the shared belief and conscious decision “that you want to be an innovative company.” These ideals should be engrained in a company culture that “fosters people to take appropriate risk…It is a matter of how you do things you do.”
At Milliken, we’re encouraged to embrace an eternally youthful curiosity. The result is an environment that fosters true research and attracts talent who realize that the role of research is to create entirely new possibilities - to connect a phenomena and a problem. This approach has led Milliken to hold one of the largest patent collections of private U.S. companies, from innovative floor covering capabilities to textile bandages that heal wounds faster, textiles that resist flames and plastic antioxidants that improve indoor air quality.
In conjunction with company culture, the physical office environment plays a key role in creating spaces that foster innovation.
FastCompany shared that, “Creating paths for chance meetings, including nooks, and designing agile, unique workspaces…promote collaboration, creativity and productivity in the modern office.” Milliken took advantage of this very strategy to inspire creativity in our Athenaeum, the corporate headquarters for Milliken’s global floor covering division, designed by M Moser Associates. According to Milliken Senior Designer Kristin Gruenefeld, "Alternate functional spaces really allow workers to interact on an informal level with their peers and upper management. There's natural collaboration and sharing, which benefits individuals and the company as a whole."
Specific colors can elicit or prevent certain behavioral responses. Green, for example, “doesn’t cause eye fatigue and can help people remain calm and efficient at the same time.” Softer pastels, like Rose Quartz, one of two Pantone Colors of the Year for 2016, can “convey compassion and a sense of composure.”
Even material functionality can improve productivity. Some organizations have noted that standing desks have resulted in easier idea sharing and can increase productivity by up to 10 percent. Similarly, when working at standard desks, certain cushion-backed carpet tiles can reduce muscle fatigue up to 24 percent.
Innovation can be nurtured by both a company’s culture and its physical workspace. It’s a commitment to continuous improvement, without being afraid of failure, that actually brings it to life.
This blog is an adaptation from the Milliken Flooring Blog to celebrate National Innovation Day on February 16, 2016. Photo of the Milliken Athenaeum courtesy of Eric Laignel.