Disrupting yourself (again)
This is where all starts again, and fuels the ideas and innovation within your company
I’m going to be running a hybrid one hour webinar at the end of the month, where we will be talking about assumptions and risks when building product. It will be theory + practice. The good thing, IT’S FREE!!! Sing up here
This is the last part of the series Disrupting Yourself, where I analyse the main traits that in my experience at Nexthink have been fundamentals in propelling the success of the company, and keeping it at the forefront of its category.
The last piece, was related to idea of Less is More (almost 2 months ago) and even if it seems all the pieces of this serie are disconnected, this step is where all begins again.
If we visualise the different pieces using a loop (a virtuous one in our case) it would look like this:
As you can see, the main trigger for this virtuous cycle is either some BBB (big bold bet) or a specific innovation the teams wanted to drive forward. The first ones were coming mainly from our leadership team (top-down) and the latter ones were emerging from the bottom to the top.
I’m going to focus on the latter ones (coming from the team themselves) in this post, but the BBB shared the same steps along the way. The main difference were, the size (big), the horizon (medium or long term), and the impact on the entire system (acquisition, retention, and monetization) which tends to be big.
Main traits that drove this loop successful
At Nexthink we had a specific event, close to the end of the year, dedicated to translate the ideas that teams had in mind, as they were working throughout the year, into reality and they were fuelling the bets taken by the leadership team.
You may think that this was yet another space where people get together to spend time and riff about crazy ideas and as a “gift” for the effort poured during the year. This couldn’t be wrong. In fact, two of the things that proves how important the event is, was that the winner idea got to be implemented in the product.
Some of the things you can consider to do something similar and still being successful:
No success theater
This particular event was treated as another opportunity to impact positively on Nexthink customers, and it was reflected sharply when you get the invitation to submit your idea.
The jury was not interested just in the new technology, but in solving a specific customer problem, and you had the time to work for 24h straight to create a prototype and tell the Nexthink community why this is going to be useful.
The structure was created purposefully to introduce the idea, the problem you were aimed to solve, time-box, and time to run your presentation against the jury.
It was intense, exhilarating, and hectic. I can recall people sleeping in the office and being up at night finishing one prototype, because they were so excited to render it a reality.
Incentives aligned properly
Following up on the previous point, the incentive here was to do the right for the company and the customers.
That’s the reason that the winner idea got to be implemented the next year into the product. If you don’t think that that is a compelling reason, boy I don’t know what could get you excited.
As I previously appointed, this was not the only chance people have to expose these ideas, but we knew that there were a bunch of cool ideas we might have heard in customers calls, that we didn’t have the space at the time to prototype them.
This space was aimed for that. I recall that in some situations I ran a list of different ideas and I decided which one I thought was the most promising, and that was the one I decided to present. Interestingly enough, the idea that got implemented later didn’t come out from the Innovathon, but more organically. More about this on the upcoming paragraphs.
Fostering this environment where people know they can dedicate time at least once a year, was quite encouraging and liberating as well.
Not “any” idea
I didn’t say but the jury was formed by the CEO, CPO, and CTO. Sometimes there were other folks joining, CMO or someone from Sales.
This was a deliberate exercise to understand which idea was aligned with the company and product strategy. Even if it could be “intimidating”, it was also quite exciting for folks to have the chance to speak to probably the three most influential people in the organisation to implement your idea.
This dynamic had another great advantage that some folks didn’t realise at the time. It was the chance to practice your presentation skills in front of an audience that is not the one you face on a day on day basis. The depth of the questions helps you to prepare in a different way and understand why they are asking those questions in the first place. This has a power of elevating the skills of the people presenting (my point of view).
Keep your promise
There is nothing worst than a person not keeping their word or which is worst saying A and then behaving as B.
I had the chance to lived first-hand and from the previous editions when I was not part of the company, the pieces of the product that were the result of ideas coming from the Innovathon. For instance, the current architecture came from an idea of ingesting events in real-time using a technology that was not accesible at the time (these were the on-premise days).
Couple of examples while I was a Nexthink employee:
This year in the annual Experience conference, Nexthink announced Flow, to take automation to the next level. I saw the first prototype almost 2 years being presented at the Innovathon.
In 2022 Nexthink allowed their users to search within the product using NPL, such as “devices in Boston with application crashes” and you got the result. This was the winner idea of the first Innovathon I attended. After a couple of iterations and with the raising of AI, they reused that and insert an smart assistant within the product call Nexthink Assist.
One of the concepts that was always presented, was the one to use a world map to visually contextualise something (devices, applications, etc). Eventually, this was implemented in the context of showing the applications page load times, across the different locations.
Reinforce the Habit
You may thinking, “do I need to wait a year to have the chance to show a promising idea?”. Not at all, the best example is one of the product we have ideated with the tech-lead I was partnering at the time, where we were quite convinced we can expand our footprint into a certain direction, based on the feedback we were receiving (Nexthink Amplify).
We haven’t waited till this event to introduce the idea, gather evidence and start to expose how the solution would look like. At the time, we were already validating the idea when the Innovathon took place that year.
Although we haven’t had the chance to implemented it, we knew it has been already a huge success. I learned that over the years.
I would totally recommend this kind of events, especially if the intention behind is to do the right for the company while enabling smart people to express their inner creativity.
Be careful on how to incentivise the participation. We haven’t gotten nothing related to money, but the pride and validation that good ideas are worth to be developed and the reinforcement from the leadership team that it came out from the product teams.
Don’t make it once a year, let the people know that innovation could happen at any point in time, but make it formal so they know it’s something you value.