The lack of innovation at large and mid-sized companies is a well-known problem. Often because of bureaucracy and other barriers, many companies struggle to create innovative environments where disruptive thinking can be fostered.
As Gary Pisano says in his book Creative Construction, the causes why companies fail to innovate are more related to management practice and leadership than with organizational scale per se.
Harnessing creativity at any company requires an innovation strategy. As we develop creative solutions for companies, we seek to apply our strategy every step of the way. Let’s break down our innovative strategy so you can see what it looks like in practice.
Why is innovation so tricky for large and mid-sized companies?
Innovation is something that must be built at a company. For large-sized companies, innovation often becomes a nice-to-have instead of a must. This happens for a few different reasons, including:
- Outdated systems
- Company culture
- Need to please stakeholders
- “We always have done it this way”
In other words, it can be difficult to create the sort of innovative environment that’s essential for companies nowadays.
Our innovative strategy
Innovation is a core value of our business. We even have some practices we follow that aim to create an innovative environment in our teams and the projects we work with. Here’s how we do it.
1. We use Agile methods to prioritize multi-ended problem-solving
Agile lets us stay nimble as an organization. Agile is our working method, our way of finding creative solutions through collaboration and iteration. With this method, there’s never just one solution for the problem at hand.
Instead, we work with a user-centric approach to get information, draft ideas and then iterate and improve towards the final product. It’s a highly collaborative and dynamic approach that relies on creativity. By nature, innovation is rewarded within the Agile system. And let me say we don’t only rely on Agile methodologies for the software development projects we run but also for many of our internal processes, such as HR, Marketing, Internal Communication. We believe having a lean approach to how we run the company, not just software projects, helps us be innovative.
2. We have a robust discovery phase for every project
As soon as we start working on a new venture, instead of jumping straight to prototyping, we go through a robust discovery phase. This ensures that we don’t act prematurely and box ourselves into one product solution. We take our time to set up the environment for innovation.
The discovery phase is a 2-4 week journey to clarify the project approach and the best solution. We take our time to dig into the business core and determine the data behind our decision-making.
During this discovery phase, we create an innovative set-up to get data, craft solutions and then apply it to practical prototypes all while we confront our ideas with Subject Matter Experts and users alike.
3. We foster an innovative environment through collaboration
In addition, our teams are prepared to think innovatively. We seek to foster innovation in our teams in several ways. First, we make sure that every employee feels empowered to innovate. This isn’t just about having the right tools, but also about company culture. Employees are able to explore ideas and are free to fail.
Giving product and project feedback is not just a privilege of Project Manager, UXers and Business Analysts, everyone in our team has a voice and a place to share their ideas and to promote new work practices. We encourage this approach. In fact, we try to instill the values of autonomy and play, so our team members can get creative and can be able to bring disruptive innovation to the table.
4. We model innovation within our company too
Besides innovation within our teams, we work to model innovation at a high-level. Making Sense is always looking for new ideas, trends and working methods. We’re also not afraid of sticking with what works.
Since the Making Sense foundation, we encourage innovation and we are focused on creating our own products. Over the years, we brought to life and launched to the market multiple in-house products, and it is our desire to continue in this way.
Balancing innovation with other values
Companies sometimes think that innovation is at odds with other values such as speed and tangible results. In fact, we believe innovation goes hand in hand with efficiency. By thinking outside the box, we find the right approach for the right product.
Because we define the solution clearly, we’re also better prepared to make our plan tangible – and quickly. As I mentioned in previous articles, the market is inundated with products and stay innovative becomes crucial to keep a company competitive. Having a mindset toward innovation and embracing the agile method, allow us to prototype, iterate and test our ideas or products in an efficient manner, in order to learn fast and quickly adapt them to the user’s needs and avoid a waste of time and money.
Commitment to an innovation strategy
Having an innovation strategy is only useful if your company is committed to it. As they say, innovation is a process, not an event, not a goal it self. Instead, innovation is the mean to achieve something bigger. At the end of the day, I think that thinking outside the box just for the sake of innovation doesn’t make sense. Innovating shouldn’t be the goal but they way to get better results.
Our value proposition at Making Sense is to help companies to stay innovative and focused on achieve results by applying new ways of work.
We think innovation is what enables us to bring value to our clients, give our employees the best experience, and delight the end-users.