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The human side of digital innovation 


Where would we be without creative ideas? Without the people who dare to ask the important questions, or to approach things in a brand-new way? Behind every great service or product ever invented there is a human being who had a great idea. When we think about innovation, we often associate it with organizations, but without individuals there would be no ground-breaking ideas. In order for any team to work together effectively and—in best-case scenarios—creatively, organizations must ensure that each individual feels empowered. This starts with fostering a culture founded on collaboration.

A culture that prioritizes working together to share ideas, design solutions and create processes that help accomplish shared goals ultimately results in innovative products and ideas that will drive the business forward.

Creating a positive and collaborative structure

Fundamentally, a positive and collaborative organizational culture can be broken down into four essential building blocks:

  • Shared purpose: the core idea that people within the organization are aligned on, otherwise known as the company mission.
  • Shared values: the values that support the company mission, connect the community within the organization, and guide all employees on how to support each other and the business.
  • Shared rituals: actions or practices that put the company values and purpose into practice.
  • Shared tools: specific platforms and resources that help employees understand all of the above.

Balancing these building blocks is key to success as they all serve as structural pillars of an organization’s culture. Often included in these shared values and rituals is a focus on collaboration, especially for innovative companies. That focus on consistent collaboration is imperative to the success of any organization and the reason why is simple: people are more invested in the success of a product or service when they have been consulted in its development. So, the more you allow team members – at all levels – to contribute, the prouder and more empowered the team will be as a whole.

Taking risks and engaging customers

Another important aspect of innovation is taking strategic risks. This means not being afraid to fail, as failure is key in the process of discovery. This can be daunting, especially in a digital world, which is why team members need to feel encouraged by leadership to take risks, knowing they will be supported every step of the way. This is how individuals, and their team members, truly learn and grow, which is key to successful innovation of any kind.

Additionally, knowing that leadership has their backs will empower employees to be more in-tune with customers to ask the necessary – yet sometimes intimidating – questions, which often prompts discussions that ultimately lead to new ways of thinking. This means asking for, and applying deep listening to customer feedback and analyzing insights to tap into what their true needs are. Sometimes this means being comfortable with hearing what we don’t want to hear, pushing us beyond validation of our ideas, and stepping into customers’ shoes to think differently.  By doing so, organizations are better positioned to innovate proactively instead of reactively, effectively separating the industry leaders from the growing market of hungry competitors.

The path to an innovative and collaborative future

Every company is different when it comes to their goals and the way they manage innovation. However, all companies need to define the cultural traits and resources that support their innovation strategy. Most notably, providing a space where team members have the structure they need to thrive along with an open environment where they feel psychologically safe.

At FCT, we strive to provide an environment where all employees feel safe sharing ideas. We understand that innovation starts with collaboration, which can only be truly accomplished in safe spaces.

®Registered Trademark of First American Financial Corporation.

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