Driving Innovation through Diversity and Collaboration
2018-12-05 | 4 min read
Innovation is critical to the success of any company, where growth and new market opportunities are driven by industry-first technological advancements. However, innovation can also be applied much more broadly in the corporate context. According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, the definition of innovation is "the introduction of something new; a new idea, method or device." Beyond technological innovations, novel approaches to business functions, operations and processes can drive operational excellence as well. But innovations — whether in technology or business operations — rarely come from one individual or even one function. Breakthroughs thrive with varying inputs, perspectives and experiences that a diverse group of individuals working together can provide.
That’s why at Keysight we believe innovation is a social process supported by collaboration across a diverse group of individuals and functions. We provide physical spaces, online and social collaboration tools and cross-functional engagement methods to help drive innovative thinking across the company. Our internal Hackathon is just one example of how Keysight utilizes collaboration programs to engage our diverse workforce — in this case, with a focus on innovation.
Keysight Hackathon: Seeding and Implementing Innovation
Launched this year, the Keysight Hackathon provides employees from across the company a platform to share innovative ideas and then see them through to implementation. It started with participants from over 25 locations around the world submitting nearly 500 out-of-the-box ideas through an online social collaboration portal. Submissions covered a variety of topics, from new and adjacent business opportunities to sustainable innovations and efficiency-based advancements.
From the submittals, more than a hundred were selected and assigned to cross-functional teams during live, three-day events held on multiple Keysight campuses. During these live events, there was palpable excitement as teams dove into the selected ideas to develop applicable implementation plans and use models. Several company executives also attended these events to participate and cheer the teams on. It was a win for the individual employees that submitted the ideas, for the teams that took that innovative inspiration and made it work, for the company as many of the outcomes have supported significant advancements and, of course, for our key stakeholders as we move these innovations into real-world applications across the company.
Diversity Drives Insight
The key to realizing the benefits of diversity is understanding that every employee has a unique perspective on the business and its opportunities depending on their role in the company, past experiences and individual attributes. Utilizing these perspectives can result in completely different takes on everyday processes, technologies and approaches. In our case, the Keysight Hackathon provides an avenue to benefit from our diverse employee talent pool by turning employees’ innovative insights into functional, industry or corporate advancements.
I encourage other companies to share how they engage their own diverse employee base to drive innovation. I have found that these efforts turn to favorable results for customers, shareholders, employees, the company and the global community at large!