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29 July 2008

5% Process - 95% Culture

Today I spent some time thinking about the way we brainstorm and develop ideas for future web projects. And it occurred to me that we're far from mainstream. But that's NOT a bad thing, in fact it's one of the reasons I love where I'm at.

First, I get to work with incredibly talented and creative people. But more important is the way all of these people function under the bigger influence of the 'culture' that exists at Granger. This is typically referred to as the 'culture of excellence' but I'm not totally convinced this is adequate. The word 'excellence' is only 50% of the story.

The other 50% I would suggest be called the 'culture of innovation.' Which is what I was pondering all day. I mean it's one thing to try and 'innovate' but quite another to be 'innovative' simply because it's part of the culture.

This isn't to say that everything we do at Granger is innovative. We still fall into the trap of thinking inside the box. But more often than not the box gets thrown out the window.

Here are the opposing mindsets in a nutshell (In the Box vs. Innovative):

In the Box
  • Projects created to fix existing problems
  • Do it all
  • Have it all
  • Do it all yourself
  • Make everyone experience you the same way
  • Assume people will figure out how to use your site
  • Assume if it's on your site people will find it
  • Do what everyone else is doing
  • Projects created to enhance user experience
  • Do only what is helpful for your audience
  • Strip it down to the bare essentials
  • Partner with really smart people
  • Allow each to experience your site in their own way
  • Assume people will get confused. Make it simple and explain it well
  • Make all information 2-3 clicks away if at all possible
  • Do what everyone else will want to do

This isn't a complete list of course. Just a sampling of the differences I've seen in meetings and brainstorming sessions. Again, we don't have it down to a science, but I love trying to get there. Like I said:
5% Process - 95% Culture...
Big things coming this fall. Hopefully the majority of them will be innovative :)

I'd love to share right now, but it will have to wait a few more weeks...