Innovation is incredibly important to what we do at Cubert. In fact, our entire business is built upon it. As an incubator that prides itself on launching consumer-centric brands that address marketplace needs in new and exciting ways, innovation is our main ingredient.
But what does innovation mean? As perhaps one of the most popular terms making its way around boardrooms the world over, everyone seems to have their own definition. It’s often conflated with creativity, but there’s more to it than that. “At Cubert,” says Co-Founder Marius Ronnov, “innovation is creativity steered towards a measurable result.” By cultivating a healthy dose of curiosity and providing a nurturing workplace, we combine creative ambition with quantitative consumer data to shift perceptions and launch disruptive products. That’s how we’ve acquired over half a million customers across four brands.
In less than a year.
This wasn’t a fluke. We’ve carefully designed our internal ecosystem and our company culture in order to make Cubert a place where innovation thrives. “When Jeff and I started Cubert, we knew that we had to find ways to innovate if we were going to get an edge and launch truly groundbreaking brands. So we did our homework. We created a sort of playbook to create an innovative workplace. That way everyone—and I mean everyone, across all of our teams—would be able to contribute.”
Here are the five strategies we use at Cubert to cultivate an innovative workplace:
ONE: START AT THE BEGINNING (AND MAKE IT INCLUSIVE)
“This might seem obvious at first,” Ronnov admits. “But you have to start by defining what, exactly, you want to accomplish before you can steer anyone towards it. And everyone has to be a part of that process right from the beginning.” Before a project kicks off at Cubert, everyone knows what direction it’s meant to grow in. And everyone has the opportunity to ask whatever questions they might need to have answered before they can effectively contribute.
(We also foster an environment of psychological safety so that everyone feels encouraged to ask those questions in the first place. You can read about that here.)
“Since we work with so many curious and creative people,” Ronnov continues, “this is always a really exciting moment. We begin with a general idea, and then by bringing everybody on board and putting everything out in the open, we end up with a clearly defined goal that’s shared by the entire team. That helps us work effectively as we move through the project.”
TWO: GIVE CREATIVITY ROOM TO BREATHE
Everyone knows there’s nothing more unpleasant than being micromanaged. It stifles creativity, generates anxiety, and can dampen productivity. That’s why team members at Cubert are given as much freedom and autonomy as possible as they work towards the shared objective.
“As leaders,” explains Ronnov, “it’s our job to empower employees, not hover over them.” At Cubert, team members are given access to all the information they need to make informed and confident decisions as they contribute to projects. “So we let our teams explore whatever avenues, whatever possibilities they think might lead them closer to the objective.” Cubert team members know they’re safe asking questions whenever they need answers. But aside from regularly-scheduled meetings, they’re given all the room they need to let their creativity flourish so that they can get the job done effectively.
THREE: EMBRACE DEFEAT
Innovation never comes easy, and there are always missteps along the way. That’s why Cubert embraces defeat and encourages teams to acknowledge failures, share what they’ve learned, and keep moving forward. “No one at Cubert is afraid of defeat,” says Ronnov, “because a defeat is just another opportunity to learn. If something doesn’t pan out, our team members acknowledge it, share their takeaways, and move forward.”
This approach has the added benefit of helping dissolve silos and bringing our team members closer together. “Acknowledging that an idea didn’t work out can be a scary thing,” Ronnov explains. “You have to be vulnerable to do that. But being vulnerable opens up a dialogue and breaks down barriers. It brings people closer.”
Plus this way our collective knowledge grows with every defeat.
FOUR: OPTIMIZE THE INFRASTRUCTURE
To recap: Every team member has been briefed on the objective and allowed to ask questions. Then they’re given all of the information they need to work autonomously towards it. And after they start, they’re taught to embrace every failure as an opportunity to grow. But there’s still one more piece of the puzzle.
“You absolutely have to have an engaging corporate infrastructure,” says Ronnov. From the technology used to connect team members across departments (and across continents) to the policies and ethos set in place to govern communications, the infrastructure holding an organization together is the soil in which innovation grows.
“Everything we do hinges on effective communication,” Ronnov states. “That means making it easy, from a practical perspective, to speak across the organization to other team members so that everyone can collaborate.” That means everyone, even Ronnov and Co-Founder Jeffrey Lee, is accessible within the organization. There are no walls at Cubert, at least in a metaphorical sense. And by cultivating a company ethos that promotes honesty, ownership, psychological safety, and mutual respect, we’ve established an internal infrastructure that optimizes our innovative impulses.
By making all of our projects inclusive, giving our team members independence, making failure okay (even encouraged!) and providing the right kind of infrastructure, Cubert is growing into one of the most innovative and disruptive companies in Toronto.