At Uber, employees receive a reward for an idea that isn't implemented, i.e., a "losing idea" as well as ideas that are adopted, said Uber General Manager Chris Nakutis.
"We have a reward for innovation of the month and loss of the month because it means someone tried something obscure and we still learned from it," said Nakutis in a packed room at Salesforce.com's ExactTarget Connections 2014 conference in Indianapolis.
Ideas like a reward for loss of the month appear to be working for the five-year-old startup, which has overturned the car service industry with operations in 209 cities globally and is valued at about $18.2 billion.
Getty Images Senior Vice President Craig Peters also offered insights and advice from his experience at a company that has disrupted its own industry. Agile companies, Peters noted, "look for opportunities and then figure out how to marshal their resources." To be successful, he continued, "you have to move faster than your budget."
Getty Images has been adjusting to changes in the photography business as more photos continue to flood the market and drive down prices. This year, for example, the company introduced free embeddable images for use of personal blogs and websites, in exchange for information about the user's photo-viewing behavior and preferences.
Company culture is also essential to be an agile company. "You have to be conscious of your culture and hire people who want to take risks and make sure the capital flows to their ideas," Peters advised. Nakutis agreed. "You can't have a mentality where you're wed to your ideas," Nakutis added. "Fight for your ideas, but if you lose, be able to move on because your next fight will be in two days."
Speed and execution are also critical for staying ahead of your competitors, Nakutis noted. With other startups like Lyft and Gett nipping at Uber's heels, the San Francisco-based car service has been busy rolling out other offerings, such as a carpooling service, UberPool, and UberMilitary, which offers veterans higher commissions and bonuses for becoming Uber drivers.
"Companies are competing against speed," Nakutis said. "We're executing better than everyone else and that's why we're growing."