According to Merriam-Webster, innovation means the introduction of something new or a new idea, method or device. In the technology world, we love innovation! Innovation is exciting and can lead to new capabilities, efficiencies and perspectives that inject new energy into an organization.
Unfortunately, while innovation is often sought, for varying reasons – whether it’s a lack of time, resources, commitment or something else, it can be a struggle to innovate and inject that innovation into an organization so it has a real impact. Or in some cases, organizations find a good idea and drive it until it runs out of gas. Very few organizations have the ability to continually introduce good, new ideas that transform “business as usual” and make an ongoing impact on people and business.
So, how do you create a culture of innovation that has a real impact on an organization?
Creating a culture of innovation was one of the pillars of starting Fusion PPT. Over the past seven years, we have woven a culture of innovation into the fabric of the company and successfully introduced new concepts, technologies, processes and ideas not only into our organization but for our clients, as well. While our recipe may not be a fit for every organization, we want to share how we create and foster a culture of innovation inside our organization in the hopes that it will help you create a revolution of innovation in yours.
Our approach focuses on five key activities:
- Conduct outreach to understand problems: Every organization experiences different problems, whether process or technology-based. Connecting with different organizations and talking about these problems helps form macro level understandings of common issues that face all organizations. It is critical to explore industries, markets and solutions to understand what is being done today, what works and what does not work. Innovations may be significant improvements to current technologies or processes or new approaches to problems. You can’t achieve either if you don’t thoroughly understand the problems. Our outreach takes the form of Technical Exchange Meetings with organizations to discuss their challenges as well as attending industry events to hear from enterprises in the market.
- Create a forum to incubate new concepts: It’s important to create an atmosphere where different team members, and even different organizations, can discuss new ideas and technologies. This provides the opportunity to plant the seed of innovation and spark new ideas and solutions that can be applied to the problems that we hear and discuss. At Fusion PPT, we created the Cloud Café. Monthly, team members have the opportunity to discuss new ideas and technologies to address the challenges they see in the market, with our clients and even within our organization. As part of the Cloud Café sessions, we also invite product vendors, educational institutions, research institutes and other venture funds to present and discuss their solutions and approaches to technology challenges. This ensures we are continually expanding resources and insights. Beyond monthly sessions, we’ve created a hands-on experience with the Fusion PPT “InnovationLab,” where our teams research pressing technology challenges and work on new code, integrations and solutions in a highly scalable, resource-limitless cloud environment.
- Celebrate and record failure: Organizations that fear failure are afraid to try anything new. At Fusion PPT, we treat each failure as a learning experience and build those “lessons learned” into a library that we reference before undertaking new initiatives. This body of knowledge is a guiding framework to for new initiatives and successful innovations.
- Engage with partners and programs to operationalize concepts: Innovation does not exist within a vacuum. Once we have a new solution or process, it’s vital to work very closely with program managers and operations to ensure that whatever was created, makes sense for the end users and can be rolled out effectively to have a positive impact. Ultimately, if an innovation can’t be easily deployed and consumed, it has very little chance of impacting the greater good.
- Track the impact: It’s critical to track the impact of the innovation, where it succeeded, failed or even exceeded expectations. We take these impact reports and include them in our lessons-learned library to help shape the path of the next great innovation.
Innovation is never easy, but a formal process and an organizational commitment to improvement and forward movement helps foster a culture that encourages new ideas and out-of-the-box solutions to problems.