Innovation events are popular in the technology startup world. For that reason alone, they might sound like so much more business-bro nonsense. Taking time from one’s regular work to tinker on new projects that might never get finished? Sounds like a lot of effort for very little reward, right?
But don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Ranging from a few hours to several days, Innovation Days are an opportunity for team members to collaborate on fresh ideas that they might not have time for during the regular work week. The end goal of Innovation Days isn’t to build a host of new products or develop completely new workflows. While those might be a wonderful byproduct of such events, it’s the process of collaboration that really matters.
First of all, team members are asked to think creatively and develop a project pitch. That’s exciting in itself; creative problem-solving might be a popular phrase in job descriptions, but few jobs can allow employees to take the risks that creativity requires. People are then free to self-organize into groups around projects they’re interested in, giving them greater agency over their work and exposing them to colleagues they may have never met. Since they’re constrained to just a few days to develop their idea into something their colleagues can understand and value, team members are motivated to work hard and try tasks that fall outside of their normal roles. It may sound hyperbolic, but in all, Innovation Days can be powerful tools to move a business forward and strengthen the bonds between team members.
Since ScriptDrop is a tech company focused on using technology to improve healthcare access, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to bring Innovation Days to our team.
ScriptDrop’s First Innovation Days
During the height of COVID-19, our workforce began working from home, and most have remained there. As our writer, I am most productive at home, where I can limit my distractions. As a result, going into the office for the Innovation Days kickoff felt special. Attendees browsed a selection of muffins, bagels, cookies, and coffee procured by Kathy Mullins, Jeremy Anderson, and Jessi Behrendsen. At 9:30 AM, Chase McCants took the stage and explained what would happen next.
One by one, fifteen team members took the stage to pitch their innovations and ask for help bringing their ideas to life. Those fifteen people represented almost every team in the company: Customer Success, Logistics, Sales, Account Management, Engineering, Data Analytics, Human Resources, Marketing, and the C-Suite. Their twenty-three collective ideas ran the gamut. Long-time problems were uncovered, small but effective workflow ideas suggested, and major new initiatives that could change our business for the better were considered.
For team members like TJ Gerlach, a Logistics manager with a few years under his belt, Innovation Days represented an opportunity to finally work on a project that was started pre-pandemic and had since fallen by the wayside. But it was clear that tenure with the company wasn’t a requirement for big ideas. KayCee Bartoli, a Customer Success Coordinator who has been with ScriptDrop for five weeks, thrilled the audience by suggesting a new way to work with our payor partners and benefit patients in need.
During the pitch session, audience members often realized that their team’s issue could be solved by another person’s solution. In at least one case, a problem was posed, and the Engineering team immediately countered with a fix that was ready to implement right away. As an observer, it was exciting to see this in-the-moment problem-solving happening in front of me.
Once the pitches were finished, everyone dispersed and began organizing into groups. At the time of writing, nine of the twenty-four pitches (plus one idea that wasn’t pitched) have coalesced into projects tackling the following topics:
- Delivery transparency
- Better bundling of orders
- On-boarding new team members
- A new way of working with payors
- A way to benefit pharmacy partners
- A strategy for working with new partners
- Delivery of veterinarian-prescribed medications
- New integrations
- A dashboard that teams can use internally
- A company-wide glossary of terms
These newly-formed teams wasted no time in starting their work together and have spent much of the day brainstorming and working together in between their normal meetings and tasks. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s round-up to learn about their progress!