Leadership Insights From $4 Billion Intuit CEO Brad Smith

If you’re looking to step up your leadership and management skills, Brad Smith is someone I suggest perking up for. As the president and CEO of financial software giant Intuit (think QuickBooks), he has also lead his company to consistently be ranked as Fortune’sBest 100 Companies to Work For” and “Most Admired Software Companies.”


The guy knows how to run a company.


Here’s his advice on successful entrepreneurialism, leadership and innovation. Oh, yes, and it’s all about the people.


The Recipe For Innovation

There is no “I” in “Team”

Brad is all about teamwork. He hates the letter I and instead embraces the collaborative spirit of “we.” He says that this has always driven the success of Intuit.


There are two core capabilities that Brad says helps Intuit deliver the highest quality solutions to their customers and truly changes people’s financial lives:


1. Customer driven innovation

Intuit conducts almost ten thousand hours of “follow me homes” a year that track where customers live, work and do business. This helps the company discover essential problems for the customers and create better solutions.

Brad says this methodology was at the core of Intuit’s very first product Quicken (you might have heard of it) and continues to drive the company’s success.


 2. Design for Delight

According to Brad, this is a method of creating deep customer empathy though taking broad ideas, coming up with narrow solutions, and performing rapid customer experimentation to test if the solutions will work and bring the customer…well…delight.


These three essential components–collaboration, customer innovation and Design for Delight—have allowed the company to constantly reinvent themselves and provide their customers access anytime, anywhere.


Operate like a company of startups

Brad says no matter how large your company is, barriers to innovation need to be removed, and leaders need to get out of the way. Intuit, according to Brad is run like a company of startups by encouraging employees (nearly 8,000) to take risks and learn from their successes and failures.


The idea is to empower and challenge individuals in order to give them room to innovate and make a positive impact on the company.


Recognize great work

With all this innovation nurturing, there is bound to be incredible work being produced. That’s why Brad makes sure it doesn’t go without recognition. Intuit co-founder, Scott Cook created an annual Intuit Innovation Awards where employees showcase their work at Innovation Gallery Walks. Though, says Brad, the best reward is to see their work positively impact the more than 50 million Intuit customers.



Brad’s parting word’s of wisdom:

No matter how large or successful a company is, a leader should always think like an entrepreneur, always listen to your customer and constantly innovate by stepping out of the way to empower individuals and reward great work. This will create a successful, healthy company that people are happy to work for and customers are happy to show loyalty to.


Photo Credits

Forbes.com / Flickr.com / Intuit.com