Leading the charge for innovation is Xerox and its CTO Sophie Vandebroek. At Xerox, innovation is all about helping customers serve their end users better and making sure everyone gets the care and solutions they need.
Innovation is a vital part of the future of work and can be the difference between a mediocre and successful company. Here are Sophie's five innovation practices for the future of work:
- Address pain points and dreams. Innovating just to innovate doesn't do any good--real innovation always has the end user in mind and creates something that will meet their needs and address their pain points. However, many people aren't aware of or can't vocalize what they really want in a product. The best innovators see how customers really interact with products and services to find pain points and create the product of their dreams. At Xerox, this happens by bringing in groups of end users so innovators can see how they work with the product and tapping into ethnographic experts for a different approach to customer dreams and pain points. True innovation understands what customers need and pushes beyond what they hear to provide the best possible solution.
- Foster an innovative culture. By nature, innovators push boundaries and disrupt themselves and their organizations, which means they can't be afraid to fail. If a culture has boundaries and limits creativity, it will ultimately hurt innovation. Embracing diversity and putting people in the right teams to come up with creative ideas is critical to fostering innovation. The most innovative organizations create inclusive environments where people feel comfortable and know they are free to create and experiment until they find the perfect solution.
- Focus on agility. Innovation of the future allows failure but also acknowledges that failure must occur quickly. If an idea doesn't work out, don't dwell on it, but rather learn quickly and move on to the next idea. This comes from creating a reliable and repeatable process to quickly understand the pain point of each end user and come up with ways to meet that need in an effective manner. Innovators are always moving, pivoting, and pointing themselves in the best direction.
- Leverage the world. Innovation isn't a closed industry--the best innovators know that they must often look outsides themselves and their organizations to collaborate with others and come up with the best solution. Not every smart person works on your team, and successful organizations know to go find those people to collaborate with. Xerox showcases its passion for open innovation by actively reaching out to other startups, research labs, and government organizations to combine forces and make the best product possible.
- Surf the disruptive waves. Trends come and go quickly, and it can be easy to get caught up in the hottest new idea. The best innovators recognize trends but don't let them shake the organization off its strong foundation. Create a plan before the waves come of how you will handle change and disruption, and then balance yourself and stick to your strengths. It can be tempting to try something that everyone else is doing, but if it isn't something you can own, look for something else that better fits your core areas.
Sophie views all innovators as entrepreneurs, which means they must also have that mindset of being able to understand the end user and address needs they didn't even know they had. Innovation of the future empowers the creators and users and opens new doors. By embracing trends and new technology while still staying connected to customers and your core foundation, companies can innovate and prepare for the future.