Advocating for Innovation with Creitive

creitive logo digital agency large

Dragan Stević has heard all your reasons for resisting change at your company and he’s not buying them. He is used to dealing with resistance. He is a co-founder of Creitive, a digital product agency from Belgrade, Serbia, operating in Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Creitive has been brought in by the likes of Visa, Microsoft, Paypal, Prudential, and Audi-Volkswagen Middle East to serve as an advocate for innovation. And, Creitive also helps the SMB segment, specifically by accelerating the innovation journeys of funded start-ups.

Overcoming innovation blocks

Even at the most cutting edge companies innovation needs an advocate, someone to push for changes that help the business run more efficiently and effectively. Rarely is that advocate found within the company. Even though employees are often full of great ideas that can help the company, rarely do they have the time and social capital to press for their ideas and flesh them out. So innovation gets put on the back burner. Progressive ideas get short shrift. And those who push for them get frustrated.

Looking for a digital agency? Post a Project

“Innovators have blockers,” says Stević. These people don’t think of themselves as blockers. They aren’t trying to restrict progress, rather “they have issues with how to implement anything that isn’t the operational priority at that moment.” In other words, companies stagnate because innovating is not on the top of anybody’s to-do list.

It’s understandable. Innovation, as a concept, sounds scary. “Usually when you say innovation people think SpaceX, ‘We’re going to Mars!’” says Stević.

Making innovation less scary

But he and the team at Creitive are on a mission to change the way businesses see innovation. They want to take the teeth out of the idea of innovation and make it less scary. This is reflected in everything from the tone of and you get the sense, from talking with Stević that there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Creitive Discovery Workshop
“At a discovery workshop, the whole room is full of stickers and graphs and visualizations. You wouldn’t believe how many good ideas come up from them, the client.”

After all, to innovate just means to do something in a new way. It does not mean do EVERYTHING in a new way. Most people think that to innovate you’ve got to bet big on one giant leap forward for your company. Stević believes the opposite. He believes that innovators should use the techniques of LEAN startup and AGILE software development. Innovation should not be a big, risky bet, but a series of small, safe ones that take you in the right direction. That is the basis for what the Creitive team calls LEANNOVATION.

In a nutshell, Creitive works with companies to identify innovative ideas for digital products, and then prototype, test, and develop those ideas into game-changers. At the start, there’s always some skepticism. “The main question,” Stević says, “is ‘why do we need someone from the outside to tell us what to do?’” But the truth is, the Creitive team makes a point of not telling their clients what to do or make. Rather, they draw out innovative ideas from the clients through their discovery process.

“At a discovery workshop, the whole room is full of stickers and graphs and visualizations. You wouldn’t believe how many good ideas come up from them, the client,” adds Stević. Most clients don’t suffer from a lack of ideas, it’s a lack of ways to put those ideas into action that slows their innovation. But the Creitive team has the know-how and experience to move those ideas in the right direction, keeping in mind business value and feasibility of those ideas.

Creitive - Dragan Stević
“A digital product is never done. It’s like a living organism. It always evolves.” – Dragan Stević

Shaping rough ideas in a discovery workshop leads to one key output: consensus on what needs to be done and why. This becomes the key innovation that Creitive then champions for inside the company. They put together a presentation deck with all important aspects of the idea with all pros and cons, business value, and future positive outcomes for the company, to influence C-level decision-makers to give an idea the green light. Once getting buy-in the Creitive team then moves on to the product roadmap workshop where they conceptualize the solutions and start with wireframing, putting something on paper. But the product roadmap is not set in stone. There is no final plan, just an initial plan. Every digital product is a moving target. It’s a process that includes building, testing, and rebuilding. The product roadmap starts this process.

Mapping out innovation

LEANNOVATION is built on the AGILE framework and borrows from the LEAN startup methodology that requires innovators to fail many times but to fail small hundreds of times. Constant optimization testing, improvement, and validation are essential. And testing takes several forms. Starting with focus groups, 1-on-1 interviews, internal alpha and beta tests, etc, they create a minimum viable product (MVP). From there they track how real users actually use it. “When you are getting real analytics data and as you are getting users,” says Stević, “you’re also getting the problems.”

These problems that are revealed by early adopters are the key to building a quality product. “You always need to add new things in order to be competitive,” says Stević, adding that when you create a mobile app, “companies like Google and Apple favor products that change. This signals that you are taking care of your users and they reward you by improving your reach.”

The most successful apps in the app store are constantly being updated. Companies like Airbnb are constantly running tests on their website and in their app.

“A digital product is never done. It’s like a living organism. It always evolves,” says Stević. Even the Creitive experts can’t know for sure what will go into a digital product without first creating an MVP and testing user response. Once this process begins and you start seeing results, you keep updating and keep improving. With this mentality, Creitive helps clients stay at the leading edge of innovation without risking your entire future one make-or-break product.

This is just a brief summary of the LEANNOVATION process and how it works. To learn more about how it works, check out Creitive’s website, on TDA, and on LinkedIn.