Innovation & Company Culture – More Than Just Talk

LightbulbsThere is a lot of buzz around the word innovation, and why it is important to a business and its company culture. I recently came across an article written by Andre Durand titled, “4 Tips to Foster a Company Culture of Innovation,” and whereas I agree with all of his insightful tips, I sat back and asked myself: Can we tangibly define how we, as a company, actually foster these tips within our culture?

DataScan is a company that prides itself on innovation, but do we do more than just talk the talk?

Tip One: “Start a conversation with two simple words: ‘What If’”

Durand clearly communicates in his article to strive to create a company culture that constantly questions how things are done and why. As Durand says: “Look at the way things are today — the status quo — and postulate the exact opposite.”

One of our value statements here at DataScan is, “Go For It. We prepare for the future by taking risks, learning from our experiences, and finding new ways to do it better.” That mindset must come from management on down. I can attest to being in many meetings where associates felt comfortable questioning senior managers about how and why we did things a certain way.

This type of dialogue is not just to encouraged within DataScan, it is actually expected. As a result, associates feel empowered to ask important questions such as, “What if we rethought how we deliver content to our client’s dealers? How do we make complex data for our dealer channel easy to digest and analyze? What if we completely redesigned our existing Dealer Access System userinterface to enhance the user experience?”

In fact, our Wholesale Intelligence Request Engine (WiRE) was born from dedicated associates who dared to imagine.

WiRE is the dealer connection to their lender’s wholesale accounting platform (DataScan’s Wholesale Intelligence solution) that empowers dealerships with a user-friendly interface, which streamlines communication and transaction processing with the lender, as well as providing access to data in the form of user customizable grids, charts, and dashboards. It is highly intuitive and is designed for efficiency.

Tip Two: “Pay special attention when someone says, ‘I have a crazy idea’”

Oh divine inspiration…it happens. And when it does, we must stop and heed its crazy call. Some of us are inspired more than others, but eventually we all will have a great idea. We may not always feel comfortable in sharing that idea; and in that silence, the idea dies. At DataScan we strive to foster an open nurturing environment, where all ideas have validity. No eye rolling around here!

For example, one of our associates approached management with her very own crazy idea: implement a new customer support management system called ZenDesk that would greatly enhance how our clients and support teams interact, as well as provide increased visibility into the status of questions and issues and transparency into the issue resolution process.

Doesn’t sound so crazy, but what was crazy about this idea was the logistics. Take all of our clients, who were on a platform that wasn’t perfect, but wasn’t broken, and switch them over to something new. Could it really improve efficiencies that much? Well it did, our customer support rating is at an all-time high, and the feedback from customers is overwhelmingly positive. We consider our associate a crazy genius for suggesting it, and we are glad that we were listening.

Tip Three: “Approach life as if you were making stone soup”

Stone soup, for those of you living under a rock, or a stone, is a folk story about a traveler convincing the townsfolk into contributing their goods into his “delicious” stone soup. This simple fable epitomizes that we, as an organization, are only as good as the sum of our parts. Contribution and collaboration are key components in getting your soup to taste good. But how do you get the sum and all its various parts working together? What has been instrumental for DataScan is using a tool called Slack.

Slack is a cloud-based instant messaging and collaboration platform that allows us to establish various channels within our organization for communication, document sharing, teamwork, and so much more. It also offers a means to stay informed with what is going on across departments, and allows us all a chance to give input and add our own type of ingredient or spice, if you will. Now that’s some good soup.

Tip Four: “Create a new relationship with failure”

Durand implores you to question how your company views a mistake. We know mistakes are bound to happen; it’s inevitable. Could failure be the key that propels us into taking new risks that may very well lead us to knocking on innovations door? Quite simply, yes.

A few years back, DataScan was holdingg onto a business unit that was distracting us from our core business. By letting go and accepting that hanging on was not allowing us to fully focus, it opened our eyes and helped us reenergize and reinvent our wholesale finance technology and services company to be solely focused on our core competencies, and our client’s needs. Without the wrong turn, we would never have arrived at where we are today.

And where we are today is exactly where we want to be; an industry leading, customer focused, wholesale accounting and risk management solutions provider with an innovative company culture that we work hard to maintain everyday.

By: Lisa Mallean

To learn more about DataScan, please visit us at www.onedatascan.com

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