Ask top entrepreneurs, new paradigm leaders or even Fortune 500 CEOs about what characteristics are conducive to creating and nurturing a culture of innovation and they may share some the following:

  • It starts with people. You want to have a healthy mix of curiosity, creativity, design thinking, patience, sense of urgency and most of all, generosity. Pamela Rucker, chair at the Technology Advisory Council, and CIO Advisor for Women in Leadership on the CIO Executive Council advises “Hire and promote people with diverse skillsets, diverse backgrounds, and diverse cultures that believe in big ideas for how your company can change the world.”
  • Add in nature. Bring your talented people in to do exactly what they do best. Whether it is inciting constructive chaos, presiding over peacemaking, or diving heads down into a project, trust them to tackle the tasks at hand. Says Rucker, “give them an incubation center to promote those concepts, and you will see innovations you never considered, and you'll find ways to grow and sustain your customer base by promoting the new things you have to offer them."
  • And nurture them to excel. Development is key to self improvement and driving your company forward. At Velocity, we encourage our employees to learn from each other, from our customers, from our partners, and from outside resources. We encourage mentoring across the organization, to provide different perspectives and take advantage of best practices and others’ experiences.

 

​Our focus on people is paying dividends.  Our attrition has been lowered, our morale is higher and our customer satisfaction scores have improved. We will continue to focus on enhancing relationships with continuous communications, improving operations, and excellent customer service.

One of my early mentors was an older Irishman living in NYC. Gerry taught me many valuable lessons as a young engineering manager working in a large corporation.  He had been around the block a few times, but still kept not only a bright and cheery disposition, but a keen eye towards innovation. I remember clearly one lesson he passed on in an early morning meeting in the Bronx. I was a bit down from a series of productivity setbacks on a particular project; we were behind schedule and over budget. I mentioned this to Gerry. He looked at me, sipped his coffee, and then gave a nod to have a seat. I knew a lesson was forthcoming.  
He told me a story, in his thick Irish brogue, about a project early in his career, where the team was stuck, using standard tools, and critical path project management thinking. He highlighted that the team was getting anxious about upcoming deadlines, and thus more and more tense each day. He mentioned that there was one person, Gerry called him a 'wild duck,' who had not been as productive as other team members, and who seemed to be lost in thought much of the time. Gerry had a choice with this wild duck — he could push him off the team and replace him with a ‘more productive’ member, or embrace him and find out what he was so lost in thought about. Gerry decided on the latter — to focus on people, nature and nurture — and talk to Michael directly.
It turned out that Michael had been thinking through an entirely different approach to the particular project that was stuck. Once Gerry let him air out his thoughts, he realized that Michael’s ideas would leapfrog the team ahead of schedule and put them back on their cost forecast. Gerry supported Michael in bringing his ideas forward and the whole team got back on track and eventually succeeded.  Supporting the lone wolf with his nature helped save the project!

I try to apply that same thinking every day, as we all come together, as VTS’ers with diverse backgrounds and skills, in our goal of making the leading cloud application management company in the world!