Like most business owners and leaders of teams, getting the most of your team is absolutely critical to your success. The more you can get delivered/produced, in the most efficient way, makes a huge difference to the top and bottom line of most organisations. It’s also more rewarding for those involved.
As a business, ROQ tries to tackle this in two distinct ways – how can we run our business more efficiently; increasing productivity, eliminating waste and keeping a focus on the high priority / high value activities. Secondly, how do we pass efficiencies and productivity gains onto our clients so they can reap the benefits.
The internal challenge has been fun. There is a perception across most companies and industries that innovation needs to be “big” and that it needs to be ground-breaking to be considered innovative. We suffered from this for a while, and we found that it caused some members of the team to keep ideas and even successes to themselves, as they didn’t think it fit under the label of “innovation”.
We addressed this a short while ago and effectively re-framed “innovation” to really become “ideas sharing”. We get the teams together, from different disciplines within the business, once a month to share new ideas and productivity gains that they have tried – failed or succeeded with – and how that can potentially help others. This has been a fantastic way to pick up new technology – apps / software – new time-saving ideas, ways of working (how to structure your day) and some more impactful ideas that we can leverage in our marketing and recruitment initiatives.
There might not have been any “game changing ideas”, but 10’s of little things that people have adopted to improve their productivity and effectiveness have become the new norm. As an organisation we have moved forward and it’s such a simple idea. Culturally, innovation (or incremental improvement) has become the expectation, not the holy grail. I am a big believer in the laws of attraction and the more we do of this, the more likely a “big idea” will come, but if not, we’ll still all get better at our jobs!
Its slightly trickier with clients, as the best learnings are usually in the context of “doing” and not having whiteboard sessions in isolation – it therefore becomes the balance of trying new things whilst doing the task at hand. We are fortunate in that we have great client relationships and we have built innovation and continual improvement into our quarterly objectives and that enables us to bring new ideas and creative solutions to help solve any issues.
Some of our most celebrated successes with our clients involve how we have increased productivity for them, in one way or another. Sometimes, that might mean that they spend less money with us in the first instance but they will come back to us when they need help with something else because we have put their needs first. This is the mantra that has driven the business from the outset – something I mentioned in my previous blog “20 years and counting".
We have also tried to align this mindset with our own organisational development as well and where we see the future of our services and our people. One of the biggest areas we see in this area is automation and how everyone can leverage this to do their role.
There is still a mentality amongst a lot of the testing community that automation and manual testing are done by different teams/people and we are focussing on removing that myth. We are looking at how to increase the productivity of each of our team members – we jokingly asked them to do 11-hour days, but that got less support (including from HR!) so we need to solve the challenge of increasing productivity in new ways.
We have real lateral thought in what we do every day - including personal productivity for their testing activity, but more importantly, totally new and creative ways to save significant time and cost on all sorts of real technical challenges our clients face. In some cases, the ideas have not just helped testing, but the whole project.
Speaking to other MD’s and CEO’s of organisations, it’s surprising how many struggle with this concept of continual improvement and innovation, but in reality it goes on every day by most of our teams. It’s just that we don’t necessarily give it the right platform or celebrate all the wins.
This might be holding us back. The onus on the leaders is create the climate and environment for it to thrive and the cultural change will take care of itself.
Stephen Johnson - Co-founder & Director at ROQ