This article will discuss one of the winning ingredients for Solver as an organization and definitely one of the reasons BI360 is as successful as it is: innovation.
I have worked for Solver, Inc. almost exactly three and a half years, and regardless of how long that sounds to you, I feel as though I have seen a lot of change here. Sure, a lot of the reliable characters are still here to make things interesting and deliver cutting edge deliverables to support the business, but it has been exciting to see growth in a company that sees the uniqueness in their human capital – and invites them to flourish with their specific expertise – for the benefit of BI360 customers. This entry will explore what I know to be the cornerstone of Solver’s success: innovation.
Whenever I have been asked to identify what I like about working at Solver, Inc., I usually start thinking about the character. More specifically, the company has a lot of character because it is comprised of characters – too much? The “fun factor” is a top-down vibration, with CEO Nils Rasmussen encouraging adventure, exploration, curiosity, and the genuine enjoyment of coming to work because your friends are there to make the days fun. Over the years, I have drilled down and found more of a substantial reason behind the character.
Of course, Solver, Inc. is interested in seeing candidates that are seeking true character in a company culture, but sometimes I wonder which came first: the uniqueness of company culture character or the diversity of expertise, given the space to do what each person does best? Rasmussen and the rest of the executive team, Corey Barak (COO), Mike Applegate (CTO), Hadrian Knotz (CIO), and Tad Remington (COO), give managers and team members alike the space and the charge to innovate in a way that serves present and future customers. With a technological solution like BI360, sometimes it might feel like the innovation can get overshadowed by consumer solutions, like Apple iPhones, but not for the Solver team.
From development to marketing, from accounting to consulting, and from sales to support, this diversified team understands that this software improves the processes that finance, accounting, and managerial folks typically oversee. As the business continues to more fully embrace the distribution of ownership to all employees in regard to understanding the mission and the strategy to support organizational objectives, this product category has become more and more business user friendly for self-service corporate performance management (CPM) analyses at all levels of the company. And the Solver team understands that by building flexibility and intuitive design into the product. We’re encouraged to lead with innovation – and we always have been, but more recently, innovation has been formalized and incentivized with a new internal initiative.
In one of the last Solver company-wide meetings, the leadership team announced a new process to invite, encourage, and celebrate innovation. Riding the success they have seen innovating as a company over the years, management would like to steer into the new ideas that can come from individuals or collaborating as a team. The goal is “to become a more innovative company and ensure that we are listening to the ideas that all employees have as [that has] made Solver the great company it is today and we strive to be better,” COO Corey Barak said. “The ideas accepted should impact company culture, revenue growth, process improvement, improve communication, enhance customer service, advance international relations, or increase employee satisfaction globally.” Additionally, Solver as a company wants to avoid the stagnancy that might occur as part of going through the motions of emails and business as usual. As proven by past developments, small or large, the creative process is typically one that requires stepping out of the routine and thinking differently. Indeed, even the innovation initiative seems to be a result of that very process.
I recently witnessed that spark of innovation ignite. At this year’s annual BI360 user conference for partners and customers, Focus 2017, former principal Linda Cliatt-Wayman was the guest keynote speaker. She shared anecdotes of running toward the challenges facing one of the most violent, underserved high schools in the nation – and how that is one example of bold leadership. “If you’re going to lead, lead” was just one key takeaway that Cliatt-Wayman passionately impressed upon us as we sat in a dark auditorium the last day of the conference. She moved a lot of people with her stories of complicated obstacles to creating a healthy, safe, supportive space for children to get an education and break negative cycles, and one person took the opportunity to further that conversation into a place of action.
Nils Rasmussen was scheduled to do some filming with the onsite camera crew anyway, but was absolutely moved by Cliatt-Wayman’s work and her message. He brought her with him, and they had a candid conversation about serving the global community – and the impetus behind why corporations should get involved. I later ran into him at the registration desk, and he was visibly emotional and animated about feeling a need to formalize Solver’s contribution to the world. And that’s just we did. We already have had a couple of meetings in the books to organize ourselves for this project.
I could get mushier about the importance of inviting, encouraging, and celebrating innovation as part of Solver’s DNA, but instead I’ll say this: since creativity and innovation are launch pads for what’s next, there is a lot of work to be done if I’m taking note of the geniuses I work with and am inspired by every day at this company. And given the story I’ve just told about giving back to the global community, I know that BI360 customers and partners aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the innovation-forward organization.
Solver enables world-class decisions with BI360, a leading web-based CPM suite made up of budgeting, reporting, dashboards, and data warehousing, delivered through a web portal. Solver offers BI360 through cloud and on-premise deployment and is reinventing CPM with its next generation solution. BI360 empowers business users with modern features including innovative use of Excel in the model design process. If you’re interested in learning more, our team is excited to hear about your organizational needs and goals.