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Tech of a Life Edition Two: Creating a culture of Innovation
Let’s discuss: Positive Disruption
Our second edition of our new digital magazine, Tech of a Life, is packed with collaboration and ideas, hearing from forward-thinking industry experts on how to tackle disruption head on and their views on the future of the property market.
Grab a cuppa and dive into some really interesting interviews with Simon Whale, MD & Founder at Kerfuffle; Adam Day, International Expansion Leader at eXp; Charlotte Jeffrey-Campbell, Director of property training platform The Able Agent and more.
Creating a culture of innovation
In a recent McKinsey poll* 85 percent of people said that fear of criticism, fear of uncertainty and fear of a negative impact on their career holds back innovation efforts in their organisations.
By creating an expectation or culture that innovation is the norm, encouraged and rewarded you can go a long way to making it part of your company DNA.
Innovation is core to everything we do at iamproperty, from who we hire to how we work and the behaviours we ask of everyone – continuously innovating in a fast-paced, fast-growth business takes a special kind of environment that respects difference and encourages collaboration and healthy debate.
But it’s not always easy! Creating new solutions, whilst maintaining and constantly evolving existing technology is a big challenge. We work in an industry that is heavily regulated and has daily change, so we’re working from an innovation roadmap that involves a lot of moving parts.
We might be a technology business, but it’s not code or tech functionality that drives our innovation or adds value to our Partner Agents, it’s the people in our team who are making big changes in our industry. With this in mind, we asked key people around our business what innovation means to them and how it has evolved over time.
Ben Ridgway & Jamie Cooke – iamproperty Founders
“We’ve come a long way since Ben and I were the original innovation team when we started the business” says Jamie. “Long gone are the days where we were the only ‘ideas guys’, or where innovation came from us challenging each other’s wild ideas in the pub (which we still do!), but today there is a whole team of product and service specialists behind everything the business delivers.
One of the biggest contributors to how we’ve innovated over the years has come from having each other to bounce ideas off and balance each other out. Finding the right people to innovate with is a big part of being able to keep innovating at pace and comes from selecting people to work with who have the same goals as the business. That doesn’t mean they have the same idea of how to get there, but they ultimately want the same thing for the industry and are unafraid to challenge ideas.
We want to make big changes in the property sector and so we love it when our team are passionate about that too. We never wanted a business filled with ‘yes people’ we wanted a business filled with people willing to challenge the norm.”
Ben adds “As a business we have a fairly flat structure – this is deliberate as it means decisions can be made quickly and we all dig in. Layers of decisionmaking can cancel ideas quickly. Great ideas can come from anyone who works with us or in our supply chain and Partner Agent Network and it’s exciting to see how that is developing every day. To achieve this, we’ve had to really focus on creating a place where ideas are encouraged, from not being afraid of challenging one another and enjoying some healthy conflict, in the diversity of our team recruitment and in having an investment strategy that enables innovation so people know their ideas can actually be tested and taken forward.
“When we started the business, we could sometimes do things on a hunch, go with our gut for a big idea. But now we have so many stakeholders and lots of different teams, so we take views from lots of different people. We let data and collective decision-making drive our innovations now and it works well to get to the right solution.
The one thing we’d definitely keep hold of as the business continues to grow is getting face-to-face with our teams, we operate really flexible working, but you can’t beat a session with everyone in the room for finding the big ideas or challenging what’s on the table to get to something better.”
Deborah Watson – Product Manager for iamsold
“Innovation isn’t just about one team working in silo, it’s about collaborating internally with our stakeholders, working with our Estate Agent network and the wider external property community. There is no point in collaborating or innovating unless you really mean it. We have advisory boards with our Partner Agents which is all about listening to their challenges and working together to find the right solution for that challenge and that might not always be iamproperty. With testing and BETA testing we create as many opportunities as possible to make sure we are getting the right feedback before we take ideas to the next stage.
Ben and Jamie are a great example of this because they’re different, they challenge each other and certainly don’t always agree with one another! They show us all that it is fine to be open to new ideas and to listen to others’ views.
A big thing for us as we’ve grown has been to make sure we take everyone on the journey with us and appreciate every team has their own growth and innovations to deal with alongside what we’re doing with the auction services. We have to make sure the development team have the same insights and passion as the product team and then take that to every team in the business. It’s always a learning curve, but I think we’ve got a lot better at that over the years as we bring in new innovations.”
Tania Bonesi – Product Manager for movebutler
“The most important part of innovation for me is our ability to be agile and that comes from being able to collaborate and by making it an expectation to have a “Let’s do it again but better” culture, where nothing is ever completely finished – we should always be striving for more.
Although we have dedicated product and service teams, we want problemsolving to work across the entire business. In the 10 years I’ve been with iamproperty we’ve become really good at finding the right people to drive our innovations forward. Recruiting people based on our core values plays a big part in the business strategy, because everyone is striving for the same goal. We’ve got a great recruitment team who work closely with us to find the right people and who can add new skills and ideas to what we’re doing.
With movebutler we’ve had the opportunity to create something brand new for the market, which comes with loads of challenges as you test that all the big ideas work in practice for our agents. But there isn’t a better feeling than watching the platform being adopted and seeing it solving the problems you set out to solve when you were sitting round a table with a blank sheet of paper a year before. There aren’t many jobs that give you that buzz of seeing something you created making a change in your sector. And we celebrate that together as a team – before we move on to the next evolution!”
Great ideas can come from anyone who works with us or in our supply chain and Partner Agent Network and it’s exciting to see how that is developing every day.