To Have an Innovative Company, Let Your Employees Take the Reins

'In order to clean, they need to get messy,' serial entrepreneur Justin Klosky tells Entrepreneur's editor-in-chief Jason Feifer.
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Editor’s Note: In the new podcast Masters of Scale, LinkedIn co-founder and Greylock partner Reid Hoffman explores his philosophy on how to scale a business -- and at Entrepreneur.com, entrepreneurs are responding with their own ideas and experiences on our hub. This week, we’re discussing Hoffman’s theory: the smartest companies don't tell their employees how to innovate, they manage the chaos.

An innovative company starts with an innovative team. And what’s the best way to innovate? Give your employees the freedom to run with their own ideas, then manage the chaos later. At least that’s what Reid Hoffman believes.

Related: LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman: To Scale, Do Things That Don't Scale

“If you want your company to innovate, your job is to manage the chaos,” says the co-founder of LinkedIn, partner at VC firm Greylock and host of Masters of Scale, a podcast series examining counterintuitive theories to growing a company.

Hoffman’s theory doesn’t seem too far-fetched either. In fact, he’s not the only person who thinks giving employees the freedom to think and create on their own triggers innovation.

“When [people] have that ability to explore and innovate without the pressure of failing, you’re setting yourself up for a ‘win’ situation, because you’re going to get the best out of somebody,” Justin Klosky, founder of professional organizing company O.C.D. Experience, tells Entrepreneur’s editor-in-chief, Jason Feifer, in a video.

Related: Check Out a New Podcast Hosted by Reid Hoffman -- and Join the Conversation on Entrepreneur.com

Although, when you’re empowering employees with this much freedom, you’ve got to be hiring people you trust. This can be easier said than done. Rather than dissecting a person’s resume, Klosky recommends digging deeper and asking prospective employees questions that will really open them up -- anything from who they are, where they’re going and what brought them here.

After you’ve hired a group of honest, intelligent employees, now what? Don’t tell them how to innovate. Instead, let them figure that out on their own. Allow employees to do what they do best, return to you with their results and from there manage the chaos. “In order to clean, they need to get messy,” says Klosky.

For more insights and advice about managing an innovative culture, check out the video.

Edition: September 2017

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