Over 300 colleagues. 63 teams. 10 offices. And endless potential for creativity and innovation. Our Deloitte Hackathon brought together a hub of inspiration and activity through colleague collaboration and teamwork. With a focus on providing colleagues with as space to transform business ideas to opportunities, key areas of the Hackathon focused on Cognitive/Artificial Intelligence (AI), Data, Wellness, Social Impact and an Open Category for all other ideas. Hack-the-Dot brings people from across the business together to question the norm, generate new ideas and rethink how we deliver value to our clients – and I was one of the lucky ones that got to participate! Five reasons why I think innovation is fundamental The beauty of the Deloitte Hackathon is that any colleague from across the organisation at any level can participate – bringing to life a diversity of ideas and perspectives. I was very fortunate to have a wonderful team to work with on this project. It consisted of my good friends Ritivik Prasad, Anjinagowda Byranna, Narasimha Murthy Balla, Shashidhar Deethi and myself. Our idea was sparked by looking at some client issues of managing assets in the field and we solved these challenges by incorporating a cognitive agent. Here are five key perspectives around innovation, creativity, business solutions and teamwork that came to life during the hackathon when I reflect on our team’s approach and insights. #1 Use innovation to cultivate a creative mindset The best way to uncover solutions is to look at the daily frustrations of clients. By being close to the working space and day to day activities of customers and clients, the challenges they are facing immediately become apparent. What often seems to be the case is that pockets of an organisation might still be working in a way that is not efficient or effective. Using the old ‘same as we have always done’ processes means that behaviours and the approach to work becomes embedded – with little room for sparks of creativity and inspiration. As consultants, innovators and solutions-oriented advisors, it is our individual role and collective responsibility to showcase to clients what’s possible. By painting a powerful picture of possibility and thereby changing the mindset, there are a diversity of solutions that become illuminated. Innovation can drive benefits and outcomes but it is critical that we lift the gaze on opportunity and show a client what can be achieved by taking a different approach or perspective. To put ourselves in our client’s shoes were crucial for us and one of the reason we won the People’s Choice award. #2 Bring out the best in your team The Hackathon was a great opportunity to bring a diversity of skill-sets together and to work in a collaborative environment. It’s important though that every member of the group understands each other’s skills, strengths, weaknesses, challenges and personalities – and this was certainly the case with our team. By having a good understanding of where strengths sit, the best in each person can be leveraged and amplified. Knowing that a colleague has the skills to deliver on a component drives confidence, success, trust and collaboration. Keeping our team on track was critical. It takes the right dynamics to ensure people are focused, motivated, inspired and all working towards the same goal or solution. We checked in at regular intervals throughout the hackathon to make sure that everyone in our team was involved in bringing to life the challenges, opportunities and solutions of our idea. #3 Innovation at the heart of every business What drives a business forward? While there are many areas that work well together in creating a dynamic future, innovation sits at the heart and core of a thriving organisation. Across all levels of an organisation, having innovation as part of everything means that it always has a seat at the table. From team meetings to client facing interactions, innovation starts to become part of the vernacular and way of doing things. Innovation has the potential to drive endless opportunity – but only if it is harnessed well and if it becomes part of the daily conversation and dialogue. By leveraging innovation and making it part of a firm’s culture, it has the ability to differentiate a company from its competitors – the hackathon is a great example of how innovation is engrained in the culture of Deloitte. #4 Get involved, right now The hackathon demonstrated the power of creating a forum where people can connect and thrive. It provided us with a powerful platform to engage with ideas and present our findings and insights to receptive stakeholders – who can help guide, influence and support our next steps. It’s so important that we bring passion to our ideas and that there is an avenue to talk about the potential of the idea. By having innovation as a top priority, we can bring an innovative perspective to all our projects and interactions – which in turn drives an environment that is dedicated to finding solutions and interesting ways of approaching various challenges. In order to get involved, employees often need an answer to: what’s in it for me? Events like the hackathon raise the profile of us as innovators in the firm and demonstrate in a visible way how being involved can create enormous benefits around connectivity, investment in ideas and the ability to create opportunities. By contributing and participating in events such as the Deloitte hackathon, it enables all employees to build rapport with many key stakeholders that can help with professional development and guidance throughout an individual’s career. #5 Unleash the potential People often get overwhelmed with the amount of work that might be involved in taking an idea from the start to fruition and implementation. The fantastic point about the hackathon is that it demonstrates how much support can come from a business, to ensure that we as employees feel confident, appreciated and encouraged to build upon their ideas. We are not alone on our innovation journey. And always remember to not give up! It’s important to take a step back and work bit by bit to ensure that a project does not stall due to work fatigue. Our team almost didn’t participate in the hackathon but thankfully we were encouraged to be involved by our partners and senior management – which sent a strong signal to us on the sheer potential that can be unleashed once you take the first step in becoming involved and contributing. How do you support and approach innovation?