In the fast-paced world of technology, where innovations and client ambitions continually evolve, celebrating 30 years as a business is a proud achievement. Reflecting on this anniversary for Temenos, there is one undeniable truth common for all businesses that succeed: innovative people are the best asset you have.
So how do you foster a culture where innovative people thrive? Diversity of thought is key, but not as a box-ticking exercise. Rather, it’s the commercial reality that people with different sets of skills, experiences, and perspectives offer the best way to serve a diverse set of customers. Diversity has to exist within an environment where everyone is encouraged and supported to contribute. That is how to unlock innovation. Without empowerment, diversity is just data.
It’s partly about retaining what has worked; that can-do, disruptive start-up mindset. By also adding in the expertise that comes from time and scale, you hit on something really powerful. Creating that recipe is not an exact science. Things evolve too fast to think that what you put into a situation will always produce the same results. An innovative culture must be a restless one, always curious, constantly challenging, excited by change. Our President of Product, Prema Varadhan, puts it perfectly when she says: “The reason why we are able to innovate is because we let people explore.”
Recalling the big headwinds and curveballs we have faced in recent times – pivoting to the cloud, lockdown, the ESG agenda – these challenges are not so different from each other. Ultimately, you can believe your incumbency will protect you, or you can embrace change, not just as a reality but as a force for good.
This agility can’t be feigned, and neither can it be taken for granted. Organisations must design for it; flat structures, compassionate managers, and expertise where it is most productive.
A flat structure enables meritocracy, where the best idea wins, regardless of who said it. But it has to be more than waiting for a brave colleague to knock at the door, you have to go looking for ideas. Hackathons, employee forums and surveys are just some of the vehicles to ensure that a great suggestion from the most reticent colleague gets heard.
Compassionate management is also key. Compassion is the fuel that releases the potential of those you manage to be their best, professionally and personally. The compassionate manager gets stuck in, always remembering they are just one of the team, not above it. A good manager does not mean peering down and simply observing. They lead from the front, support from behind, and are always to be seen in the thick of events at the centre.
This is what really engenders trust from those you manage; the knowledge that whatever you ask of them, you are prepared to do it too. Without the trust that comes from compassionate, action-oriented leadership, flexible working arrangements and managing teams in different time zones becomes onerous.
Expertise should be another fuel to your innovation fire. When I think about the collective years of expertise that our platform is built on, from the work of thousands of colleagues over the past three decades, it’s truly awe inspiring. It’d be crazy to let that go to waste.
But often, that’s exactly what companies do; move their best people away from what they’re great at and into management positions. But what good is an expert who is not practicing their specialist skill? At Temenos, we have always fought against the narrative that seniority should be defined by the number of people who report to you. If ‘people’ is what you’re greatest at, then that’s where we want you. But if the best contribution you can make is in infrastructure design, market analytics, or compliance and regulation, then that’s where your focus should be. Why turn your best software engineer into an average people manager? A dual-track career pathway should be the preferable consideration for businesses here, where impact is the only requisite of progression.
These principles that make up our culture are not abstract values. Unpredictability and change awaits, given the way of the world and of technology. But the definition of what makes a great employee, and the conditions needed to fulfil their potential, will never change. Innovative people are the greatest asset of any organisation, when you get it right.