Something happened recently that reinforced an important point for me, and it’s this: innovation is, first and foremost, a mindset. Process, tools and accelerators are important, of course, but if your mindset isn’t tuned to an innovation frequency, it’s not going to work. Without innovative thinking, those tools will only achieve a small portion of what they’re capable of.
Let me tell you the story behind this. It’s all about the innovation mindset, and why it’s important to think beyond the obvious. Early one morning, not long ago, I was tending the sheep on my smallholding. While I was waiting for the water trough to fill, I scrolled through my phone alerts, as I often do in those quiet moments. One alert jumped out at me. A CIO I’d worked with before (as a client of Capgemini) had posted a LinkedIn update that caught my attention. It said something like: “I urgently need to talk to anyone in my network who has tried rapid software prototyping—and by rapid, I mean lightning rapid. Like, 3-week cycles. Tools, people, hackers, job seekers: get in touch”. I replied immediately. We had the right mindset, partners, processes and tools, ready to roll. I knew we could help.
Fast-forward a few days and the project was underway. My own background is in Agile development and I believe as a discipline this goes some way to honing the innovation mindset. Why? Because it’s all about velocity, incremental change, test-and-learn, and improving things on-the-fly. And that’s exactly what innovation demands of us. So we ran a series of workshops that harnessed innovation thinking, Agile principles and close partnership with IBM, whose Bluemix solution would power our rapid work.
Those workshops led to us developing value-adding new business solutions within a matter of weeks. When my friend the CIO originally posted his request on LinkedIn, he assumed that a nimble, hungry start-up might respond, or perhaps a young engineer looking for their first gig. So it was perhaps a surprise that he ended up with relative giants like Capgemini and IBM. But here’s the thing: with the innovation mindset, ‘big’ can be fast, too.
And that’s what this particular client is learning. He knows that his company (large, national, established) needs to embed innovation in the way it works. It’s a journey, but they’re off to a good start, because he’s already thinking innovatively as a leader. That’s important. Innovation comes together when the mindset and organizational culture are right and the foundations are stable. That means the ability to select and collaborate with the right partners, having a solid approach to quality and having the right processes, methods and tools behind you.
IBM is a major technology partner to Capgemini, which means that not only are we familiar with their suite of software tools, but that we have deep experience in using them in different and innovative ways. It’s a partnership that provides a very strong foundation for projects such as these. IBM’s Bluemix enabled the lightning-rapid development our client demanded. Because it’s a full-stack, cloud-based platform, Bluemix provides the ideal DevOps environment for rapid prototyping, then building, scaling and integrating apps. It’s based on API economy, so you don’t have to start from scratch.
Within 14 work days, we were able to develop, build, test and iterate a solution that enables our client to provide better services to their own business customers. Just three weeks, from answering a LinkedIn request for help, to a game-changing business technology solution: that is the power of the innovation mindset, coupled with great tools and rock solid partnership.
So, to return to my original point: innovation is, first and foremost, a mindset. My client was thinking innovatively when he put out that call to arms. He wanted to try something fast and new, and he wanted to find a partner quickly, so he leveraged social media. It paid off, because my response was immediate, and Capgemini was able to mobilize right away. Our own mindset, plus the solid foundations provided by an Agile approach and IBM tools and partnership, created a fertile ground for innovation. And when these aspects align, anything is possible.
If you have an idea for innovating your business and are wondering whether it will fly, let’s find out together. We have the mindset and the foundations, so let’s see what’s possible for your business. And please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn: after all, that’s where some of the most exciting projects begin.