Unleashing employee innovation

Exactly four years ago, our consultant in Aarhus, Henrik Hoegh, approached me with an idea: What if Eficode arranged an internal Shark Tank for employee innovations? We met, and it was immediately obvious that a company whose strategy is to build future solutions for software development must have a recurring event where employees get to pitch new ideas.

During the first meeting we decided that a recurring session for nurturing our employee-driven innovation would be born. To make the sessions supportive and ensure everyone felt psychologically safe to present their ideas, we renamed Shark Tank the “Unicorn Stable.”

The concept is simple: A session is held once a month, and it's open to any employee with an idea to pitch; anyone interested in learning and contributing is welcome to join.

To make sure every idea receives the attention it deserves, Unicorn Stable is attended by at least one team member, although there are usually several. With this, we have been able to provide immediate business insight, experienced opinions, and in the best case scenarios, launch the investment planning for presented ideas.

After four years of running Unicorn Stable, we’ve had dozens of novel innovations presented, and many of those have already been released as a service, a few of which I've included below.

Case study: DuckOps - DevOps explained as a comic

A bit over two years ago, Senior DevOps Consultant Aleksi Simell joined Unicorn Stable and pitched an idea: What if he drew a comic about DevOps in Layman’s terms? The purpose of the comic would be to use humor as a device to educate readers about the importance of quality, releasing, monitoring, and managed services.

The first comic book was released for the DevOps Conference 2022, and now after two years, there are a total of four comic books illustrating the adventures of Larry the Duck and the DuckOps.

Case Study: Eficode Accessibility Keeper - a continuous accessibility monitoring service

Three years ago, our then-lead UX/accessibility specialist, Timo Övermark, realized that the EU accessibility regulations and our UX and accessibility expertise formed a unique combination. To help our customers conform to the regulations, and to scale our expertise, we decided to invest in building a novel service for our customers to continuously monitor their service accessibility.

Today the service is available online and is rapidly gaining popularity.

Case Study: Eficode Journey - complementing our Eficode ROOT offering

Our managed services, and specifically Eficode ROOT, are based on providing all of our customers’ tools, configurations, and integrations as a service. Veneta Stefanova, our R&D team lead, and product manager Clement Louarn, with their team, understood that our customers should have a portal to display all the services they are consuming from Eficode. This helps them with transparency and the reporting of their environments and further increases the value of our ROOT service.

The development started after a Unicorn Stable presentation and is one of our key R&D efforts within the organization today.

Why not try Unicorn Stable?

Our culture relies heavily on sharing knowledge and best practices, and working together to solve customer needs and boost employee creativity. After a few years, it is easy to say that Unicorn Stable has become a monthly household event, and our employees really want to join in and both pitch and listen to novel ideas. We have been able to create an accessible event for boosting innovation and sharing both our successes and failures openly.

It’s quite easy to start an innovation laboratory. All you need to do is follow these three key steps:

1. Kick off an accessible event where you bring together people who have innovative ideas and people who can enable piloting or developing them.

2. Make sure you have the attention and buy-in of management for ideas that support the business.

3. Run sessions regularly, including during quieter times.

Published: Apr 18, 2024

DevOpsEfilifeProduct management