Infusing an Always-Learning Mindset for Marketing Innovation

Pov V3

The following article is part of the Hatch Unlocked series, a look inside the inner workings of Colle McVoy’s innovation studio.

We live in a world of constant disruption. To survive, marketers need to inspire, harness and nurture disruptive thinking. This is never an easy task with short-term financial goals always looming and the need to manage disparate teams across the business (and sometimes the world). Marketers can learn from a mindset best expressed by Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, when he said, “Don’t be a know-it-all; be a learn-it-all.”

A constant curiosity and love for the thrill of discovery are needed in today’s marketplace. This is especially true in the tech space. If you’re not innovating, you’re falling behind. And innovation is not a destination — it’s an ongoing journey. You should always be testing, discovering and learning.

In Hatch, our innovation studio, we’ve learned how to harness this thinking and infuse it across the agency to affect our clients’ businesses. We are constantly hacking technologies, applying them in new ways and learning from the astonishing results they may deliver. It’s a messy business that often does not deliver immediate or clear-cut results. But this constant test, discover and learn mentality challenges convention and delivers gems like VRnoculars for Jackson Hole Travel & Tourism or the VR Soccer Challenge for Invisalign. Here are ways of working that can help bring this mindset your teams.

Invest in discovery, not immediate solutions

Instead of demanding goal-oriented solutions, inspire your teams to experiment. Allocate 10 percent or more of your investment to research. Or allot 5 percent of the workday to experimentation with a license for your staff to explore and demonstrate impact. Then invest more heavily in the ideas that show promise. Give your people the time and the resources to experiment, even when it’s outside their department. The Microsoft Garage model is a great example of how people can be empowered to problem-solve in new ways.

Praise failures, not just successes

It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s not. When you allow people to fail and then highlight those failures, praise their efforts and share learnings across your teams, it inspires them to work harder and experiment more intensely, leading to true innovation.

Diversify your teams

It’s pretty easy to intuit that if you put people from the same background, education and ways of thinking on the same team, you’ll most likely get the same results from them all. Studies have shown that companies with a diverse workforce are better at developing innovative products and services. So making sure teams are diverse in terms of gender, race, background, experiences and interests will drive more innovative ideas and solutions.

Choose the right partners

Not knowing something can make people uncomfortable. Be vulnerable and open to learning yourself to inspire others to be open, as well. And partnering with people you trust will help guide your innovation and spend your investment in a responsible way. The best partners want to collaborate and learn together to identify problems, strengths, weaknesses, new technology and, ultimately, solutions.

Hire for curiosity

Things change so often that you can’t keep up. So you need staff around you who are so interested that they make it their personal imperative to keep up. Hire people with an innate curiosity. Even if they don’t know exactly what you want them to know right now, they’ll have the hunger for knowledge to find out.

The ultimate expression of this mindset is to be ready to change and evolve yourself. In our competitive and fast-paced industry, being flexible is the only way to stay innovative and meet the needs of the marketplace. Let us know if you want to take a peek at Hatch and our process to learn firsthand how a flexible and always-learning mindset leads to innovation.