Just about everyone has had an idea that can change the world. It can start with a daydream, or a frustrating experience, or even an open wallet with no place to spend. It’s how we learn. Why are things this way and not that way? Some are content to simply note the thought and carry on. Maybe they will share their idea over coffee with friends. But even the slightest step beyond this, into the innovative unknown, comes with risk, away from safety and the comfort of stability.
1. In your opinion, what makes a company innovative?
Alas, for innovative companies, this stability is the true chaos. Accepting things as they are is completely unacceptable. Innovators believe that we must improve or languish. As humans, leveraging our unique creative ability is a central part of progress. But innovation requires risk. It requires nonconformity. It requires vision. What’s the next problem to be solved? What problems will your solution create? Will people accept it? Is it simple enough to understand? These are challenges we seek to answer day in and day out at Qore Performance.
2. What makes your company innovative?
At Qore Performance, we strive to identify and solve human performance problems with solutions from tomorrow. While the rest of the world is newly fascinated with collecting heart rate and other performance data from their wearables, we are answering the inevitable next question of what to do with these reports. We’ve done the research: if you want to perform better, you have to stay hydrated and stay in the game. Get your body focused on the task at hand instead of trying to thermoregulate itself. Most athletes still look to the sidelines for answers, accepting that to cool down we have to take a break, and to get warm we must add layers. As innovators, we take these assumptions and cast them aside. In doing so, we are redefining the limits of human performance.
3. What or who are some innovative companies or people that inspire you and your team?
Companies that have successfully redefined paradigms and made radical ideas accessible are inspirations to us. Tesla. Apple. Amazon. Yext. Our fellow finalists. Companies that thrive on new ideas and creating things, and not on creating process. Companies that succeed by breaking new ground rather than just by protecting the ground they inherited. Companies that help you form new habits that feel simple and natural.
4. What are some publications, print or digital, you read daily or have read that help you stay on top of your game? These could be books, magazine, blogs, e-newsletters, etc.
To stay sharp, we have to stay current, and to think how we can contribute to the solution. But we also need to know what other people are doing better than us. We don’t focus on any one publication, rather, we travel where social media or other news aggregators take us, leading to intense discussions on everything from vacation policy to the proper use of hashtags to the best way to eradicate the spread of Ebola. Some specific things we read include Fast Company, Five Thirty Eight, and of course The Washington Post. As for books, we all love the Wizard Of Ads.
5. What advice would you give to up-and-coming leaders striving to be innovative in today’s business environment?
For other innovators, a list of things we continue to learn: don’t compromise on your differential ideas. Do realize, however, that just because you are an innovator, you don’t need to be innovative everywhere. Know what you can do and what you can offer, and learn how to say no. Share your idea and ask for(and accept) help. Talk to people and meet them in person. Reward other innovative companies who will work with you, or who are the best at what they do. Focus on solving the problems of your customer. Resist outdated requirements that are founded in a bygone era. Fight regulatory battles later. Keep asking why, but don’t let that slow you down. Remember that a startup is an experiment, so enjoy it --‐ Stop doing so much planning and start doing more selling. You’ll learn, and grow, and innovate along the way.