A few weeks ago, our founder Baron Schwartz shared the unique opportunity of presenting alongside Adrian Cockcroft, one of Cloud Computing’s leading thinkers, at the Leading Edge Forum’s Study Tour. The Silicon Valley-based tour was attended by some of the brightest and most forward-thinking minds in business, and it was an honor to speak to the group. Forty European CIOs and leaders from prestigious businesses and organizations gathered to hear about how the world’s movers and shakers approach innovation—and how they can anticipate and leverage emerging technology changes to their competitive advantage.
Our Approach to Innovation
The attendees were interested in how VividCortex encourages and fosters innovation within our teams and for our customers. Baron explained that our approach to innovation is shaped by his personal experiences: “It’s a bit hard to quantify or define innovation, but you know it when you see it. Sometimes innovation means truly understanding what someone else is thinking about, not inventing something original yourself,” Baron said. This is one reason that listening is an important value at VividCortex. We constantly solicit feedback from our customers, our team, other companies, investors — everyone.
A Team of Independent Minds
Baron mentioned that we’re a semi-distributed team at VividCortex, which makes it more difficult to connect and share experiences with each other, and yet our team is motivated and self-managing. Part of this is due to the satisfaction that comes from making significant progress on touch engineering challenges.
We try to focus on our strengths rather than weaknesses. This means that we aren’t focused on feature parity against competitors or meeting expectations of familiarity with existing products. We think those products have clearly failed their users, and should be displaced, not imitated. Instead, Baron said, we are “heat-seeking for customer needs.” We’re not afraid to follow wherever this leads, despite what others think. This pioneer spirit of fearlessly building unique features into our product is how VividCortex innovates.
This applies not only to product features, but also to technologies. An example is Google’s Go programming language, which some contended would be too bleeding edge and unstable, and a hiring risk. Where some saw risks, Baron saw an opportunity for a huge competitive advantage and differentiation.
This approach is one of the ways we’re not a typical software company. We enjoy taking calculated risks where we see an angle to a different outcome. As Baron described, “I’m a contrarian and thus it’s actually motivating when people naysay. It’s also fun because they’re arguing that something that’s working can’t work.”
Building the Future
Innovation is also the humility to listen and find mentors. We’re building the future with open eyes and ears. Baron said his most important advice is to “spend a lot more time listening and soaking up people’s thoughts and points of view than espousing your own.” He trusts the world to give him the answers when he doesn’t have them, which is much of the time. And he approaches the VividCortex team with the same level of trust and confidence, letting us have our own space to create and innovate. “Our team is tasked with finding the best approach and iterating fast to reduce risk,” he said. Since he travels so much, it’s part necessity, but part strategy, too: “All I have to do, and in fact my most important role sometimes, is get out of the way.”
We were honored to share our ideas on innovation at the Study Tour. Now, we’re pleased to share them with you: Baron’s slides from the presentation are embedded below.