Bringing the Culture of Innovation within Teams

lokesh kumarLokesh Kumar has been with Societe Generale Global Solution Centre for a decade. His experience in managing IT offshore teams for the Societe Generale Securities Services division has helped him seek out opportunities to innovate, work in emerging technologies and help teams embrace a mindset of innovation.

In his blog, he shares his views on how one can inculcate the ‘habit of innovation’ through simple, yet effective methods that can be adapted across various types of organizations and teams.

Defining the Problem

The first step of effectively identifying opportunities to innovate is defining the problem statement. One of the approaches we used to identify bottle-necks was spending time with the teams, and observing their daily operations. A simple approach at the outset, this helped us uncover valuable insights that paved the way to identifying areas that could be improved through novel solutions.

A key element which helped make this successful was creating an interface that connected the Information Technology (IT) division to the business operations. This connect helped streamline the processes with a more holistic view of the tactical elements that helped us define the problem statement more thoroughly.

Developing Prototypes

Once the problem is identified, it’s time to work on the solutions. This is easier said than done. When teams must first focus on their daily activities, innovation can sometimes take a backseat. It thus became essential to bring in the mindset of innovation while making teams aware of the need to channelize their efforts into ideation.

There were several challenges involved in this. We devised a wonderful solution that helped us address the issue of time constraint, lack of interest to ideate, the need for skilled employees, expertise & the team’s capacity to take on more work. A crowdsourced portal was conceptualized and developed that offered a singular solution to the above-mentioned challenges.

This ‘portal to solutions’ helped employees channelize their efforts, share their expertise, exchange ideas and innovate in a user-friendly gamified environment that made way for innovative solutions that directly solve the problem statements.

Collaborating on novel solutions paved the way for building prototypes – the fulcrum in the process of innovation. Developing minimum viable products takes time, effort and the right type of expertise. The crowdsourcing approach helped optimize our employees’ efforts in a way that led to tangible results that not only helped offer solutions to the pre-defined problems, but also helped us adapt these prototypes to solutions that can directly benefit the clients of the bank.

Sustaining Ideation

Building the culture of innovation takes time as it has a lot to do with the mindset of the team. Through multiple interactions, workshops and discussions, teams tend to make innovation a habit through new perspectives. Today we are working on some great solutions that involve the use of emerging technologies such as Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) with a special emphasis on conversational User Experience (UX) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to name a few. Innovation becomes a key driver in bringing value to individuals, teams and the organization at large and hence a worthwhile pursuit.

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