In my previous post, I mentioned the reasons why I would like to write down the ideal culture in my opinion and explained the most important culture for a development organization, “Goal-Oriented”. It’s deeply embedded with the purpose of the existence of the development organizations.

If the purpose of a development organization is to help the business serve the customers, to grow the revenue and to improve the margin by cutting cost, how can it achieve that goal? The answer is sound and clear, through innovation. Thus the second ideal culture:

Ideal Culture Number Two: Innovation

A development organization should devote itself to innovation. That’s the nature of “development”. It provides “technology” solutions to the customers and to the business. It should actively participate in all the aspects of the business to make improvements through technologies. It should act as a “driver for innovations” in an organization instead of just providing passive supports.

Nicholas Carr asked a breath-taking question, “Does IT Matter?” It deserves some serious considerations from every one working in a development organization. If we are just providing “commodity” or “utility” services to our customers and to our business, WE DON’T MATTER ANYMORE! A foreseeable future for such a development organization is to be replaced by either outsourcing or offshore. The only way to survive is to act as the source of innovation for the business by constantly utilize the most relevant advanced technologies to provide the best products and services to the business.

Innovation is not only about keeping up with the latest technologies but also about continuously improving the business processes for ourselves and for the business. For example, we can innovate in the following areas:

  • The software development process. This is about how we deliver the products. We can improve the quality and shorten the time to market by fine tune the delivery process.
  • The operational model. When the product is deployed and serving the customers and the business, how can we make it run more smoothly? How can we fine tune it to satisfy business need and manage the capacities as the business grows? How can we prevent big outages which will cost us the trust from our customer?
  • The interactions with our business partners. How can we better understand the needs of our business partners? How can we assess the satisfaction rate of our business partners?
  • Grow the business. How can we help to grow the business by providing the best product and services in the market? How can we help the marketing people to better design the marketing strategy? How can we help the sales force to identify potential customers and finish the deal as soon as possible? How can we help the service division to give world class service to our customers?
  • Cut the cost. Where can we replace the manual labor with more efficient and accurate automation? How to find the best supplier around the world?

Innovation in every aspects, everywhere, everyday! Only through Innovation, we can prove our values to the business. Only through Innovation, we can find the right position of the development organization in the big picture, the center for business improvement! Only through Innovation, we can claim we are the Profit center instead of the Cost center!

Being an engineer myself for almost 10 years, I can rightfully assume that all the engineers are very interested in innovation. We were trained in school to address real world problems with the technologies. For our career future, we need to constantly learn new technologies, new tools and new concepts. We like to fix things. We enjoy the challenges. However, since we are often disconnected with the business, it’s hard for us to fully utilize our skills and talents to drive business innovation. We don’t know the problems for us to attack and conquer.

To break that curse, we, the engineers, need to pay more attention to the businesses. There lie the best opportunities for us to innovate, to improve, to achieve something big. The management team should also work hard to better connect the talents of engineers to the needs of the business. And that also needs innovation.

Any thoughts, my dear reader? I love to see them in the comments. I will continue with other Ideal Cultures soon!