Individuals Behind The Innovation

By Janet Giesen

We are proof that diversity drives innovation.

Nearly a year ago, I was tapped to help build Commvault’s new business incubation team, which was given a short ramp to launch an innovative SaaS offering with a unique business model in a little more than six months. We did it, launching Metallic in October. And, while we attribute our success to numerous factors, I have no doubt that our diversity and collective individualism was a significant contributor.

On International Women’s Day, I’m proud to say our team was evenly split by gender and included a diverse mix of people from different functions, experiences and ethnicities. More important, they were an ideal mix of subject-matter experts for the task at hand. We embraced a collaborative, agile environment and empowered the team to assess the situation, make decisions and execute accordingly.

Having diverse players and perspectives enabled us to come at problems and offer solutions in different ways. For instance, when mapping out the customer’s buying experience, our functional diversity enabled us to incorporate marketing, engineering, operations and IT’s perspective throughout the customer journey.

Working with our team members in India helped us consider how the technology would be applied and used in other regions. And having a team from different age groups and family situations allowed us to understand, empathize with, and accommodate our colleagues in balancing our objectives with their personal lives.

It has been ambitious, daunting and exhilarating – and not always easy. However, in many respects, we’re just getting started. So in the spirit of agile and daily stand-ups, here are some of my suggestions for overcoming impediments that may arise when bringing diverse teams together:

  • Unite the team with a clear roadmap and rallying cry.
  • Time is of the essence, so empower team members to make decisions.
  • With so many perspectives and options, it’s easy to be overwhelmed or to spend too much time consensus building. You need it be clear who is acting as tiebreaker and the team needs to be aligned to the decision made. You only revisit decisions with new information.
  • Make sure your team understands “the Why” with transparent communications.
  • Driving to success takes its toll, so make sure you recognize signs of burnout in your team and give time or assistance where needed.
  • And, of course, there is no place for harassment and bad behavior. Shut it down.

We are always striving to be better and figure out how these suggestions come into play as our team grows and goals evolve. It’s been almost a year since we started this team, but I’m proud that we built an unstoppable machine with a singular objective – launch a portfolio of three new SaaS solutions to a new market at our customer conference. But more so, I’m proud that we proved that our diverse group of individuals could become another vital component of Commvault’s innovative growth engine.