I’ve been thinking about the word “INNOVATION” a lot recently. A few weeks ago I had the honor of presenting a keynote at the 2018 Great Indian Developer Summit in Bengaluru. The title of my presentation, “Culture Is the Key to Innovation,” summarizes my core thought on the subject: in all of the discussion about innovation, we have forgotten that the essence of innovation is company culture.
To me, innovation is a process, not a product. It’s about making things new. It’s about constantly looking at your products and operations and thinking creatively about how you might make them better. You can tell customers all you want about how your company is innovative, but you can’t sell it. All that matters from the customer’s perspective are the results. The role of innovation is in getting you to that place – setting the right conditions for you to be able to offer the smartest, fastest, smallest, most intuitive solutions to whatever problem the customer is trying to solve.
That kind of innovation needs fuel to power it, which is where company culture comes in. To ensure the sparks of innovation continue to fly, the first thing we at Rocket do to encourage this process is hire the right talent: bright, dedicated people who understand and affirm our core values (Customers and Partners Come First, One Rocket, and Rocketeers Are the Difference). And then we demonstrate those values on a daily basis. We create the time and space for employees to connect and collaborate. We encourage Rocketeers to bond in non-work capacities like TheRocketBand. We make time for people to participate in their local communities, even going so far as to close our offices across the globe so Rocketeers can perform and participate in community service. And we build strong relationships with our customers to encourage their active participation in determining the future directions of our products.
All of that is designed to put us in a place where we can uniquely understand and empathize with our customers’ business challenges, while also having the tools and the environment we need to come up with creative solutions. In short, I firmly believe all of those ingredients allow us to innovate and build better products. The key is to trust in the people and the process.
Andrew J. Youniss
President and CEO, Rocket Software, Inc.