Johnson & Johnson: Why Innovation Is Every Employee’s Job

By PSFK Labs

December 30, 2016

Where do a company’s best ideas come from? Even in the most progressive organizations, groundbreaking change is expected from research and development teams, internal incubators or its high-level executives—overlooking untapped potential on other teams to provide and collaborate on ideas.

In the Future of Work by PSFK Labs, Steve Garguilo, leader of Creative Engagement at Johnson & Johnson, shares how the company creates an environment and culture that encourages every department to be a part of initiating the next big company change.


PSFK: How do you foster the idea of courage or being forward with ideas to employees, and then how do you amplify their message?

Steve Garguilo: We have four main focus areas for creative engagement. One is helping people to expand creative confidence and creative capacity. We recognize that creativity is a muscle, just like any other. We expose people to new ideas and perspectives that they wouldn’t normally consider to push their thinking.

Our next focus is unburying and amplifying ideas. Our process for this is much different than most corporate innovation platforms, which typically have employees pitch ideas, and the winning ones receive funding. One of the bad behaviors there is reinforcing that everyone needs money for their ideas. Money is not step one for an idea. Money is step 5,000 for an idea.

Instead, we encourage employees to demonstrate tenacity and commitment. We have volunteer community managers who help connect employees with other coworkers who can support their ideas.

The third focus is around capability building and helping people to build the right kind of skill. These skills range from creative literacy, design thinking to idea responsibility. There’s an incredible focus on action.The other piece on the capability side is around communicating effectively. Whether that’s communicating your ideas, or also just offering more resonant, effective communication in general.

The fourth focus is developing change-makers. We’re looking for the people around the organization who are already demonstrating some of the behaviors that we think are important, and we’re asking, how do we help make them even more powerful?

How does encouraging a changemaker mindset affect the larger mindset at J&J?

If people are working on something they’re passionate about, that they feel ownership on and autonomy around, they’re absolutely going to be more engaged. We find that when people are following passions, even if it’s for a portion of their work, it absolutely affects the rest of their work. I often say that I feel like my job is to just go around the organization writing permission slips for people to say, “Yeah, go do that. Yeah, try that out. Yeah, come on. Let’s do it. Yeah, let’s go. Let’s go out, and let’s do it.”

(Download the full report to read the interview in its entirety.)


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