Seven Principles of Innovation at CVP
“We’re innovating in technology!”
“Cutting-edge technical innovation!”
The word innovation is a hot term these days, but real innovation cannot just be a buzzword. Companies that want to use technology to do things differently require an understanding of the underlying principles that create and foster innovation. Enacting these principles creates a culture where resources are properly invested and the risks associated with innovation are managed. Here are seven concepts CVP uses to create such a culture of innovation.
1) Open to Ideas
Ideas can come from anywhere at anytime, which is why CVP strives for transparency. We make a distinct effort to keep our organization as hierarchically flat as possible, our teams tightly knit, and our office doors open. Anirudh (our CEO) and the C-suite executives can be found around our multiple offices and client sights, engaging with clients and CVP employees. They stay close to the action, not only to ensure projects are progressing, but to also share in CVP’s strategy and needs. At the same time they are conversing with employees and making sure their needs and ideas are heard.
At the project level, teams have daily meetings where they discuss ideas on how to improve their projects. By keeping projects open to continuous conversation and feedback, we have input from all perspectives, yielding constructive feedback as well as new ideas.
CVP has established a staff organization model called the Communities of Interest (COIs), grouping employees by expertise. Our current COIs include Development, Health Solutions and Cloud & Architecture, Information Security, Business Analysis & Testing, Big Data, Training & Outreach, Media & Communications, Cybersecurity, and Project Management. These communities analyze and research new technologies in their respective fields. Each month, they meet to share what they collectively discover and take the time to discuss leading issues. The COIs also work to develop CVP best practices, processes, and methodologies to ensure that quality and innovation across projects and clients is consistent.
3) Recognizing Ideas
Recently, we established a “Solution Innovation Office” through which we can accelerate all innovation ideas submitted throughout the company. Everyone in the company is encouraged and empowered to submit ideas. The ideas are put into a backlog, prioritized against company and client priorities, and then delegated for implementation to dynamically formed Innovation Chapters. Quarterly meetings are held to demonstrate what was developed by each chapter, to decide how the innovations can be applied to daily work, and to recognize the culture of innovation across the company.
Combined, these analyses, experiments, lectures, and conversations allow for the pollination of ideas across projects and teams, resulting in identifying opportunities in existing client projects, sharing best practices across projects, and connecting our toughest problems with our best solutions.
4) Hearing the Naysayers
Employees resistant to an innovation concept are just as valuable as the ones championing it. Dissenting voices strengthen our innovative ideas by identifying strategic weaknesses. Throughout a project’s life cycle, naysayers provide the counter balance that prevents overweighting certain ideas. By really listening to naysayers, taking into account their perspective, and reforming ideas around their input, we are protected against blind spots or group think that maligns many top-down organizations.
5) Working in an Agile Environment
The Agile Manifesto outlines a set of values and principles that prioritizes outcome over rigid process. It emphasizes face-to-face collaboration, incremental delivery, customer collaboration, and responsiveness to change. We develop processes and solutions after working with clients to understand their needs. Solutions are alive and respond to changing circumstances which means innovation is not stifled because of excess steps in the process. We value continuous delivery of software, which means delivery is not just a looming date, it’s a continuous conversation we have with our client. These values and principles are at the center of each program and are how we develop ideas internally. Nothing is one size fits all. Our processes and solutions are tailored to each problem by prioritizing agile values.
6) Empowering Employees to Make Decisions
Ultimately, there are risks to innovation. Developing something new means not spending resources on known methods. We embrace this measured risk and know that trying to innovate while having full, top-down control over the innovation is impossible. By establishing an agile environment with sprints, retrospectives, feedback, and collaboration, employees are empowered to make on-the- ground decisions. This prevents downtime caused by people waiting for managerial approval, while empowering teams to accomplish their strategic goals with little interference.
7) Get Started
Our CEO recently gave a speech at George Washington University in which he stated:
“Ideas, trust me, are easy. It’s the execution and the delivery of that with high integrity that really matters.”
In life, what you actually produce matters more than theoreticals. Behind each idea and solution is hundreds of hours of work, meetings, collaboration, and elbow grease. If you want to make a dent in the world, get your idea out there and take the first step to make it happen: find collaborators, voice your ideas, make a plan, and start. Shoot for success, but if failure happens, take it as educational. Let it give you the experience to start again, but better. Perhaps most importantly, don’t let your ideas sit in your head, unfulfilled, because you weren’t willing to start.
What are you waiting for?
Take a breath and be innovative!