Disrupting Innovation to a Human-Centered Core

VitrA Innovation Center
2019 – 2021

The Story

This is the story of initiating a cultural transformation by discovering and activating purpose in an innovation center.

Vi aspired to become a place where ideas thrive by catalyzing innovation and disseminating beyond its borders through a set of values embedded in the teams’ daily practices. A value set that is not merely a vision/mission board to be hung up on the company’s wall and be forgotten.

The Vi Story showcases how tapping into the company’s talents and experience can make room to co-generate the right soil where ideas can thrive.

How might we help VitrA Innovation Center to be recognized globally for its human-centered approach and unique innovation culture?
Chapter I

Finding The North Star To Create The Culture

Being a true innovation center means being restless. After all, innovation is driven by the passion to create change in a customers’ everyday life rather than just being a mere inventor of any given product. Though VitrA Innovation Center was chosen to be the best R&D center in the country, with its incredible number of patents and outstanding products used in one of the most intimate spaces of people’s homes: the bathroom, they knew it was simply not enough. Vi needed a shift from a product-centered approach to a human-centered approach.

The Journey Starts: Understanding Vi

With the team that initiated the project, a lot was read, researched, and discussed to find a way to make it happen. That’s when The Day After Tomorrow (DAT) team was formed. DAT took on the thrilling work of looking for the human insight that could shift the innovation center’s entire perspective. To better understand the current situation and find that insight, the team started to journey with research. After more than 20 in-depth interviews, multiple workshops, and internal debates, together with DAT, we unveiled the gem hidden in the deep corners of the Vi.

Vi had to become a place where people felt appreciated, part of the team, and motivated to solve problems through collective action. A place where casual dialogues and collisions among employees are encouraged, where everyone knows one another and identifies commonalities, where leaders enable the people of Vi to grow, guide them in the journey of innovation, and be vulnerable enough to create a dialogue where people can share and learn from their mistakes.

Finding The North Star For Vi

The current state analysis also revealed what was missing to kick-start the transformation of Vi culture: a purpose that will guide, motivate and align Vi and all of its stakeholders through a shared understanding & aspiration for innovation.

A purpose that makes sense to all stakeholders, human-centered, long term oriented and sustainable, and calls to action.  To discover this unique purpose, we started by understanding what innovation in the bathroom can mean to stakeholders of Vi. After in-depth research and multiple co-creation sessions, we crafted the unique and human-centered innovation definition of Vi. This definition became a compass for the team, and they eagerly followed this new path that appeared right before their eyes. With our facilitation’s help, they drafted an impact law to mark their itinerary.  It was now time to start a dialogue focusing on the purpose of innovation.

Transforming The Culture

Articulating the purpose of innovation enabled DAT to start working on this purpose’s culture. One of the project’s core outputs was the emergence of three axes of the company’s cultural environment. These axes became the foundation of our action plan. To better understand the current climate, we organized a culture workshop with all employees of Vi, and co-creating sessions with the teams.

By the end of our journey of 8 months, employees discovered a purpose, drafted the Vi impact law, and created their unique value set.

The 100 Days Challenge

Defining core values is critical, but it certainly is not enough to create and sustain cultural practices within the team. To kick start the mechanisms and cultural transformation at Vi, we devised an action plan called “100 days Challenge”. The challenge included various steps for the DAT, from collective participatory actions to actions on the development of inter-departmental working structures.

The 100 Days challenge’s main goal was to enable the activation of the transformation tools in Vi’s daily routines and into the cultural climate.

As part of the 100 Days Challenge we introduced a mechanism that enables Vi employees to focus on human-centered problems: The ViChallenge. The ViChallege encouraged employees to tackle these problems and create teams around the most innovative ideas.

The 100 Days Challenge was accompanied by ViTalks, an ‘unconference’ designed around Vi’s culture codes where participants can talk about a subject chosen by themselves, i.e., whiskey, resilience, dogs, you name it. These talks were designed to increase collision moments inside the company and broaden the perspective of Vi employees.

Along with other actions such as Monday Meetings, Student Ambassadors, and writing the Code of Conduct, the 100 Days Challenge showed us what we needed to do to scale the cultural transformation in Vi. Not all actions worked, but all together, they had a lasting impact that kick-started the transformation, created an urge to move forward, and enabled a more glass-root path route.

Chapter II

We are on an ongoing journey. As we begin our new chapter, our next step together is to discover how the purpose and values of Vi will be translated into processes & rituals, skills & competencies, stories, and physical & digital space. A new task force, DAT 2.0, is now co-creating actions that will enable cultural transformation.

Connect with us to learn more about the project.

View other stories.