Chapter 6 Summary : May the Best Idea Win

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What is DevOps?

What is DevOps?

DevOps is the continuous delivery of prioritised value to an organisation. For more click here.

Atlassian Fastrack

This is a Summary of the sixth chapter of a book titled 1Faat (one feature at a time). The book encapsulates the collective experiences of our consultants as they guide clients through digital transformation initiatives.

Establishing a culture of innovation is crucial to feed ideas into the “1 Feature at a Time” machine, Without innovation, we risk leaving customers susceptible to competitors and may struggle to retain talented staff who seek more progressive work environments.

Listening to our customers…

To truly succeed organizations must address the everyday frustrations faced by our customers. Through our consulting we’ve found that those on the front lines – the ones interacting with customers or end users daily – possess a deep understanding of the problems and are best suited to identify and prioritize solutions. A good reference point for this statement is the HBR case study for the incoming CEO (John Legere)of T Mobile in the US who spent the first month of his tenure sitting in the call center listening to his customers frustrations.

I have a special line on my office phone so that I can instantly listen in on customer service calls without anyone’s knowing. I use it every day, and especially in the beginning it gave me great insight into customer pain points. For example, customers hated being locked into contracts. They hated being gouged by extra fees for things they didn’t understand or couldn’t fully control, such as data and roaming John Legere

Its worth noting that hierarchical structures can create a disconnect between customers and the C-suite, leading to a loss of crucial feedback to the leaders that make decisions about what to invest in.

Listening to our people

Innovation shouldn’t be confined to a specific department or treated as a siloed function – everyone in your organization should have an opportunity to suggest improvement.Teams within our organization may experience frustration when unable to influence product decisions.

Although new hires may initially feel connected to the company’s values and customers, the inability to have a meaningful impact can lead to apathy. People have different motivations for work – some live to work, while others work to live. Those who are professionally curious and live to work often move between companies while maintaining connections. Therefore, fostering an environment that encourages and values professional curiosity can contribute to talent retention and overall organizational success.

To facilitate this, we offer everyone the chance to innovate. The first step is acknowledging that everyone can have valuable ideas or legitimate frustrations about their work. By providing a platform for idea expression and ensuring that these ideas are taken seriously, we tap into the surplus energy of our workforce. This step is crucial in fostering innovation.

Contrary to the misconception that innovation is a sudden revelation, it is often a gradual process of small incremental steps. Thomas Edison’s perspective, defining genius as 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, underscores the importance of persistent effort. When someone proposes a good idea, we encourage them to discuss it with their leader and seek an allocation of time to demonstrably prove its benefit.

To move the idea forward, the person is asked to complete a concise one-pager answering four key questions about the problem, solution, complications, and overcoming them. If the idea shows promise, it is funded for initial exploration. The process accelerates, leading to further investment decisions or potential cancellation if the idea does not pan out.

Organizations like Adobe, with their kickbox initiative, have to some extent formalized the democratization of innovation. Many have adapted this idea for their purposes, incorporating hackathons or similar activities. BBVA’s adoption of this concept, particularly in motivating engineers to think beyond siloed functions, serves as a noteworthy example. They encouraged proposing innovations with a system-wide impact.

To assess frustration levels within the organization, be aware that staff members can indicate their availability on LinkedIn, a piece of information often hidden from leaders. Investigate how recruiters perceive our staff’s mobility—whether they are seen as easy or challenging to move—and explore the reasons behind such perceptions.

Recognize that while salary increments may attract individuals, autonomy, mastery, and purpose are key factors in retaining talent, as highlighted by Dan Pink. Leaders should not dismiss smaller problems when staff raise them, as even modest ideas may require only a few days’ effort and can significantly enhance team productivity and morale.

Democratizing innovation and providing everyone with the opportunity to innovate has its challenges. It’s crucial to distinguish between viable and less viable ideas without demoralizing individuals. Encourage the behavior of generating ideas, as without inputs from the frontline, our “1 Feature at a Time” machine may struggle to thrive.

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