Creating a Workplace Culture of Innovation and Creativity

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about workplace innovation is keeping a startup mindset. In a world where innovation is the currency of success, the ability to think like a startup–agile, forward-thinking, and relentlessly innovative, is what sets apart successful companies from the rest. 

Maintaining a startup mindset is easy for technology companies because they always have to think that way. If you’re building an app, someone can come along and create something that blows your product out of the water in a matter of weeks. 

If a tech company doesn’t maintain a culture of innovation and creativity, it won’t survive.

So how do you create a culture of innovation and creativity? 

Stress to company employees and leadership that a competitor can out-innovate you anytime.

When everyone knows this, they stay focused on figuring out how to differentiate the company from its competition both now and in the future.

Find the intersections between technology trends and users’ pain points.

It’s easy to understand technology trends by attending conferences and researching online. We know what’s going on with Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality. The real innovation comes when we meet with our clients, truly understand the pain points of their target users, and align those with applicable solutions enabled by the latest trending technology. 

If a company is targeting a specific type of user, we dive deep into the day-to-day of that user. It’s an exercise we do with all our clients. We discuss the user’s issues and how an app could solve those pain points.

Cross-reference comparable applications.

Look beyond the competition to see how other industries address similar problems.

If you hope to provide an on-demand service, see how other successful on-demand service providers, like Uber, are doing it.

If you need a checkout process, look to Amazon.

You might not be driving people around or selling them retail products, but you can still learn from industry leaders outside of your industry. Just because a business is in a different sector or serving a different type of user doesn’t mean you can’t adapt similar technologies to serve your industry and users.

Working with clients in different industries has given us a broader view of how a business might operate and better use technology to serve its end users.

Stress innovation and creativity at every stage.

At Haneke Design, every employee follows our mission statement: to amaze and delight end users, regardless of job title. We’ve written that phrase into every single person’s job description at Haneke Design. Whether you’re a project manager, a designer, a product strategist, a front-end developer or a back-end developer, that’s your mission. 

One Spring Break, I was on the beach with my kids. They were using a Stargazer app, holding their devices up to the sky so the app could identify the constellations. It provided just the aha moment I needed on an active project. 

Afterward, Haneke Design pitched One World Observatory the perfect app to amaze and delight visitors to New York City. Instead of a static design that provides information about the city, we developed an app that lays information over your view from the tower’s top, the highest point in the city. 

The app isn’t powered by augmented reality as one might have guessed. We tested AR one of the first times we went up in the tower, when it was still under construction, but there was no visibility. It’s so high up, there were certain days when it felt like being in a cloud—you couldn’t see anything. We photographed a 360-degree pan out of the view and mapped it inside a 3D space. So, no matter what the quality of the view was, you would always see this perfect view of the skyline.

How do you know when you’ve reached the point of delight?

Utilize the creative process of designers

Having a design department supercharges everything. We aren’t a dev shop. People don’t hire us only because we can build something. They hire us because we define their direction and their vision. 

We typically don’t ask our clients what they “want” a final product to be. . Instead, we ask them what issues they’re trying to solve. Then, we offer a solution and back it up with why. 

Other companies wait for the customer to tell them what to do—what they want their product to do, how it should act, and what features it should have. We’re never in that mode.

You need to understand what their business is, what their goals are, and what they’re trying to achieve. Then offer up a solution that they hadn’t even thought about. That’s how I foster innovation and creativity. 

You can’t create experiences that amaze and delight end users if you’re waiting for someone to tell you what to do. You’ve got to be pushing it. You must constantly ask yourself, “Will this thing we’re doing right now be amazing and delightful to the end user?”

Final Thoughts

Understanding tech trends is easy. The real trick to innovation is applying new technologies in a meaningful way to solve a real-world problem for a user persona. That’s what we do every day for our clients. It’s a constant evaluation of not only their competitors, but also comparable applications.

About the author / Haneke Design

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *