How to make innovation culture your engine of growth

András Tessényi

Andras Tessenyi

CEO

Management and Leadership Innovation Business
12 November, 2019

Innovation culture in practice

From the very foundation of our company, Supercharge was built on the idea of a better way to create digital products. We simply took this core idea and turned it into a service. Nearly a decade later, Supercharge is a 100+ strong digital innovation agency. It’s a place where we come up with new and better ways of using digital for the good of our client’s business and their customers. And of course, it’s a place where we turn these ideas into reality.

But how does one exactly get people to constantly come up with new and better ways of doing things? We can only speak of our way – as we are sure there are many other avenues to put innovation at the heart of an organisation – and for us, processes and frameworks weren’t enough. We had to go deeper.

Innovation has been a core part of our founding story, so it was only natural that we decided to embed it into the cultural DNA of the company.

We believe that this is the single most efficient way of making sure that everyone, on every team, comes to work with an open, creative mind. Thus very early on, we decided to commit ourselves to 3+1 principles that form the core of our innovation culture.

Constant Learning

At Supercharge, everyone is urged to learn and improve their skills on a daily basis. When it comes to innovation only change is constant so you have to keep learning to be on top of your game.

In practice this translates to providing discovery time in our projects, running R&D programs, fostering thought leadership at meetups, conferences or on blogs, supporting Open Source initiatives and many more small but important initiatives.

Tolerance for failure

If there is zero risk of failure in an undertaking you are most likely not working on innovation. Our work at Supercharge involves – per definition – the possibility that things will not work according to plan. Therefore we had to build a culture where it was not a stigma to fail and people were not paralysed by their fear of a setback.

When things go sideways, instead of assigning the blame we come together as a team, analyse the root causes, decide on how to improve and move on. The only thing you have to watch out for is not to mix this up with tolerance for making the same mistakes all over again.

Autonomy 

While it’s great to encourage learning and allowing room for failure, these alone won’t create a thriving innovation culture. People need to be empowered to make decisions themselves along with accepting the responsibility that comes with it.

At Supercharge we built a relatively flat organisation where teams can operate with wide-ranging autonomy. But to support their work and to coordinate across teams they are aided by a very robust framework made up of our culture and processes.

+1: Pragmatism

This might sound like a lot of fun but we do have to deliver to our clients, hence our motto “We make it happen”. Every day millions of people use the products we built. We would be swiftly out of business should we fail on a regular basis. So we don’t promote that it’s completely OK to fail, it is definitely not a desirable outcome.

You have to think carefully about what the consequences of failing are. Want to improve a user flow in an e-commerce app? No problem, just A/B test the new design on a small subset of the customer base and dump it if it doesn’t perform. Want to try a brand new cross-platform mobile framework on major mobile banking app? Probably not the best place to experiment, let’s look for a product with smaller size and lower requirements in terms of security.

Pragmatism means you are conscious about when and where you innovate. It also stands for many other important aspects of how we work: being aware of the real ROI of any new product or feature, having very clear goals or always working against a realistic plan. 

 

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We believe that without pragmatism innovation is day-dreaming.

Spreading the culture

At Supercharge, our work involves building futures for our partner companies. We do this in two key ways. 

First of all, we are not afraid to share our way of creating sound digital strategies, designing delightful interfaces and building robust digital products.

We also go the extra mile to drive a change of mindsets and to encourage senior stakeholders to support the journey of this cultural change. This helps our clients in transforming their own culture and processes to be more focused on innovation.

The other factor we bring to the table is our ability to innovate in a way that produces digital products that are fit for the future. Our approach, the Future Fit Framework, is designed to facilitate just that. On top of this, we continuously evolve our processes, such as our battle-tested Agile methodology and our unique feedback mechanism which fosters learning between our staff and our partner clients’ teams.

But these processes are only the manifestations of our culture, not the cornerstones. In order to build the organisational skills necessary for us to operate, we had to shape the culture to put innovation in focus. And it is the culture of innovation that powers Supercharge today.

Building an innovation culture in your organisation leads to extraordinary outcomes. Do you want to learn more about how to put a culture of innovation into practice? Let’s get in touch!

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