License to fail: Fostering culture from a distance

This blog is part of our series “Adobe CQ Presents: Making the Modern Leader.”

The world as we know it is changing at a prolific rate, and creativity is quickly emerging as a key competitive differentiator for businesses as they innovate to stay ahead of the game amidst these uncertain times.

Culture enables a truly human and collaborative approach to creativity within organisations, especially one rooted in experimentation and a “failing-fast” approach that recognises failures as learning experiences.

While many enterprise leaders understand the importance and benefits of a creative culture, only 40 percent are actively driving one.

Fostering this culture is difficult in normal circumstances, so how can leaders nurture an environment that prioritises collaboration, critical thinking, and a fail-fast attitude when everyone is working remotely and socially distancing?

In the first episode of our new LinkedIn Live series “Adobe CQ presents: Making the Modern Leader,” Ravi Santhanam, chief marketing officer at HDFC Bank in India, and Duncan Egan, vice president of marketing at Adobe APAC, explored how enterprise leaders can foster a culture of creativity, even in the face of a global pandemic. Here are some key takeaways.

Insight 1: Technology and creativity go hand in hand

Failing fast isn’t a novel concept – but both Santhanam and Duncan agreed that the technologies of today have helped accelerate the adoption of this mentality within organisations, as it allows them to easily and quickly test new innovations and ideas, measure results, and learn from them. By utilising technology to gather data as well as look at how real-time interactions are happening, businesses can respond to changes and trends faster than before in order to drive positive outcomes.

Insight 2: One team, no siloes – a razor-sharp focus on collaboration to enable creativity

Customers who have been most successful at adapting to COVID-19-related changes have effectively come together as an organization and found alignment to get things done. Egan shared an example of an Adobe customer that had been mulling over launching a chat function on its website for several years. As soon as COVID-19 hit, the customer needed no further incentive to accelerate its digital journey. The different parts of the organization, from IT to marketing, came together with the common goal of improving the customer experience and implemented the new function in just 10 days. Increasing the focus on collaboration allowed the business to drive positive outcomes with speed and agility.

Insight 3: Clarity of purpose is more critical than ever

There is no playbook for how organisations should respond to a pandemic, but one thing is for sure – those excelling in creativity in these challenging times are outcome-focused and operate with a clear purpose, Santhanam and Egan agreed. Enterprise leaders need to be crystal-clear on what the business wants to deliver for its customers and be able to rally their team together based on these goals. This enables agility, so organisations can constantly learn and evolve as they go.

Insight 4: Don’t overlook the importance of corridor conversations

Egan listed all-hands meetings, town halls, and constant dialogues as key ways Adobe makes its employees feel supported in embracing a fail-fast culture. While these formal meetings are equally important at HDFC Bank, Santhanam also emphasized the importance of corridor conversations – and replicating these digitally in the age of remote working, such as through coffee breaks on Zoom. These informal spaces bring teams closer and prevent the organisational culture from becoming completely work-oriented, inevitably compromising creativity. ‘

“You need to allow people to know you personally so that everyone feels they’re in this together,” Santhanam said.

For more insights from APAC enterprise leaders pushing the boundaries of creativity in their organisation, be sure to follow the Adobe LinkedIn page and access all episodes here.