1 Simple Way for an Exec to Build a More Open and More Innovative Culture

At NorthOut, our Innovation Offense program for the enterprise involves a metric ton of software development. From machine learning for operational efficiency to reimagining mobile user experience, working with NorthOut is often related to building — specifically building new things and building them faster.

While everyone on our team does love to create, possibly the most important part of Innovation Offense is focused on crafting executive strategies that enable organizations to learn to disrupt themselves. To this end, we hold training sessions, craft strategy and generally get in the weeds with our partners to foster cultures of innovation during our engagements— far beyond just writing code. We put it simply in much of our material, “If you can’t do what we do in 3–5 years, we consider it a failure on our end.”

During an engagement, we deploy a series of strategies to foster innovative cultures at these organizations. Tactically, this can go from rearranging offices to team reorganizations all the way to driving MVP-focused development inside of product teams.

All of those initiatives aside, one of the most effective actions I’ve seen taken by executive teams happens to be by far the simplest:
read like your engineers.

Executives should intentionally seek out the content that their engineers, product & design teams are consuming and make it part of the daily digest. Augmenting the WSJ & NYTimes for Hacker News, Inside AR/VR and /r/MachineLearning/ can go a long way to understand what’s being debated, analyzed and built across the technology landscape. I can’t count the number of times a CIO is surprised by a new competitive product that had been trending on Product Hunt for the previous week. For a mere 15 minutes a day during morning coffee, you’ll be significantly better prepared to engage and enable the teammates that you rely on most to drive success.
For executives aiming to drive internal innovation, we push them to take this strategy across across the organization.

Here’s a part of the reading list we often send:

Inside Dev
Reddit /r/machinelearning
Hacker News
Product Hunt
Andreessen Horowitz’s Blog
Have about 10 others, just ask
Want to learn about other ways we help drive corporate culture? Shoot me a note at nate@northout.com. 24/7, 365.

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