Just Run With It

DoSon Kong and Ben Fanning
IT Organization
Hitachi Vantara

Digital transformation is happening, and it’s happening quickly. To keep up with their evolving industries, companies’ ways of thinking and methods of innovation need to be disrupted.

Hitachi Vantara is no exception. Just as we help our customers to transform, we are transforming ourselves. To help our internal IT organization adapt to the new realities, DoSon Kong and Ben Fanning created the RUN WITH IT! program.

Like the disruptors in the industry, we wanted to cause similar disruption internally.

With a small team that included Joe Ceccato, Theodore Lamour, Scott Liestman, Nida Onay, Samantha Ricks, Ryan Schoeffler and Sundar Vaidyanathan, they developed the program to encourage a different mindset and new ways of doing things within IT.

As many companies’ innovation labs are failing, the team felt that they needed to focus on culture and behavior in order to see real results. “We knew we had to think differently if we were going to make a real, lasting impact,” Ben said. “In our approach, we aren’t building expensive facilities to spark innovation. We are keeping the teams where they are and working to change the behavior and culture first.”

“Like the disruptors in the industry, we wanted to cause similar disruption internally to get us out of our ‘drift’ through reimagination and invigorating our environment,” said DoSon.

Transforming the culture and people’s mindsets can be the hardest things to change in an organization. To grab attention and create engagement around the program, the team kicked off “Innovation Training 101: Dare To Be Different.” The campaign allowed people to generate ideas while gaining momentum in the RUN WITH IT! program.

With Innovation Training 101: Dare To Be Different, “we went back to our childhood,” DoSon said. “We provided Lego kits to everyone who joined the community site. With the Lego kits, we asked everyone to think outside of the box, create something cool and share their creation on our community site.”

Such out-of-the-box thinking also instilled curiosity and a sense of open innovation, the team’s main goals. “We were free to bring up any idea no matter how silly it may have sounded, and we challenged them or ran with them,” Ben said. The team made sure to encourage ideas that may not have seemed groundbreaking at first because they saw the value in exploring the development process.

From this holistic method of idea exploration came the automation of SSL certificate provisioning. The idea, Ben says, “was not one of those ideas that was looked at as being very beneficial. The engineer, however, learned several technologies in the process which he has used several times since.” Despite initial thoughts, the concept went on to implementation, saving the company $160,000 in annualized cost avoidance and reducing the time spent maintaining certificates.

This creative and inclusive approach to innovating ideas helped the team realize they were on to something. “We were operating in a way that we wanted to instill across the organization,” DoSon said. “We wanted to be thought of as the team that created an environment for open innovation and risk taking.”

RUN WITH IT! is a clear example of how transformation is happening within industries and across companies. A fresh approach towards innovating solutions is key in changing how the world works, and DoSon, Ben and team have proved that. “Although we may not have created a masterpiece, we believe we’ve started a disruptive movement.” With 104 members, 26 ideas and 17 Lego creations spanning 17 locations across the globe, it definitely seems so.

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Hitachi Data Systems, Pentaho and Hitachi Insight Group are now one company: Hitachi Vantara.

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