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Driving Organizational Innovation as an Individual Contributor

Apr 10, 2024
Matt Taylor

Startups and FAANG companies often navigate through similar challenges faced by other large organizations when it comes to product innovation. However, for many organizations, particularly large ones, achieving a comparable level of innovation can appear daunting. How can companies, and more specifically individuals within these companies, foster a culture of innovation and drive meaningful change from within?

Why is this important? Shouldn’t the development of new ideas or tools be left to those who actually build them? The answer is a resounding “No.” While leaders and creatives are often adept at envisioning the “next” feature, they can sometimes find themselves constrained by competing projects, budget limitations, or bureaucratic hurdles. As an individual who identifies an opportunity to innovate, it falls upon them to advocate for the feature and demonstrate its potential benefits.

In this series, we will explore steps individuals can take to instigate genuine innovation within their roles in an organization. We’ll focus on three critical areas: rapid prototyping, finding partners, and building a culture of innovation laying the groundwork for driving substantial change.

Rapid Prototyping or Low-Code Solutions:

Rapid prototyping tools offer robust platforms for visualizing and iterating on product ideas swiftly. For instance, a product manager at a financial institution could use Figma to create a prototype of a mobile banking app, complete with interactive elements and user flows, to demonstrate the potential user experience to stakeholders.

Moreover, some non-technical tools can be surprisingly effective for creating prototypes, especially for presenting high-level concepts or storyboards. A marketing team in a healthcare company might use PowerPoint to mockup a new campaign idea, including visuals and messaging, to pitch to the executive team.

Low-code solutions provide another avenue for driving innovation without extensive coding knowledge. These empower users to build functional applications with minimal coding required. This could be particularly useful for a sales team looking to develop a custom CRM solution tailored to their specific needs, without relying on the IT department for development resources.

Finding Partners:

To drive innovation within an organization, it’s crucial to collaborate with various stakeholders who can support and champion your ideas. Corporate explorers, often individuals or teams tasked with identifying and pursuing new opportunities, can be valuable allies. By aligning your innovation efforts with their objectives, you can leverage their expertise and resources to bring your ideas to fruition.

Identifying executives who are receptive to new ideas and willing to support innovative initiatives is crucial. These executives can provide valuable guidance, allocate resources, and remove barriers to progress. For instance, a tech lead seeking to introduce a new agile development methodology might first seek buy-in from the CTO or VP of Engineering, highlighting the potential benefits and addressing any concerns.

Collaborating with design and development teams is also essential for transforming ideas into tangible products or features. By collaborating closely with these teams, one can leverage their technical expertise to refine prototypes, conduct user testing, and ultimately launch successful products. For example, a product manager working on a new e-commerce feature might collaborate with UX designers and front-end developers to iterate on the user interface and ensure a seamless customer experience.

Building a Culture of Innovation:

Creating an environment that fosters innovation requires more than just individual efforts—it necessitates a collective commitment to experimentation and continuous improvement. Internal events, such as hackathons, innovation challenges, or lunch-and-learn sessions, can inspire creativity, encourage cross-functional collaboration, and spark new ideas.

For instance, a global technology company might host an annual innovation summit, bringing together employees from different departments and locations to brainstorm solutions to pressing industry challenges. By providing a platform for employees to share their insights, learn from one another, and collaborate on innovative projects, the company can cultivate a culture of innovation that permeates throughout the organization.


Driving organizational innovation from within demands a multi-faceted approach encompassing rapid prototyping, strategic partnerships, and a culture that values creativity and experimentation. By leveraging tools and resources effectively, collaborating with key stakeholders, and fostering an environment conducive to innovation, organizations can overcome barriers and unlock new opportunities for growth and success.

In the next part of this series, we will delve deeper into rapid prototyping and explore some tools that can help communicate ideas without the need for coding expertise.

About the author

Matt Taylor

Senior Consultant | USA
I have 10 years of experience working with web applications of all types and sizes. Previously, I have worked at large multinational corporations, startups, and small businesses. I feel this has given me a keen eye on what makes a successful project and how to help grow them.

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