“Hire people who are driven by the need to innovate, and support and encourage them”

Innovation requires the constant care and investment of attention and time. But what is it that drives innovation in Adobe? Vandana Sharma caught up with Ajay Pande, VP Engineering, Adobe India, who shared a few best practices that may help tech start-ups innovate better.

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i.t. What kind of culture is conducive to creating innovations?
A.P. I think companies that want to be more innovative and create globally leading technologies have to do several things to create the spark: at the most basic level, an open, non-hierarchical and transparent culture is a basic requirement. Without this, you don’t attract innovative and creative people. You need to hire people who are driven by the need to innovate, and support and encourage them.
The company’s leaders need to clearly show by their actions how much they value innovation. Besides, it’s good to
institutionalise a rewards system to encourage the top innovators. The organisation culture needs to be such that it pushes people to innovate. Creative people crave recognition more than anything else. Top innovators need to be recognised as company celebrities and given stars for what they do. It’s hard work and lots of investment, but the rewards justify it all!

I think the environment for innovation is what you create in your company. Yes, the surrounding culture you’re embedded in is a factor, but with the best people and a belief in your abilities and talent, R&D and innovation can thrive anywhere.


i.t. What kind of innovations would be preferable in the long run for a country like India-product level or service level? And, what is required to make any innovation succeed in the market?
A.P. In a country as large and diverse as India, there is no one model of innovation that is enough. Innovators in both products and services will find a challenging, yet rewarding market.

i.t. Can you cite a few best practices that Adobe India practices to encourage/foster innovation?
A.P. Because of our history as a company driven by innovation, Adobe is lucky to have had the founders who built up a culture where innovation is one of our core values, and it continues to drive everything we do. Adobe India encourages people to try out new ideas and innovations through several ways that may be interesting to any organisation.

The company has set up significant awards for patent filings, apart from creating a technical and legal support system for inventors. We have a system in which anyone can come up with an idea for a new product or technology, and we then provide them with the time, funding and support to become internal Adobe entrepreneurs, and essentially run their own business or research set-ups in Adobe. Inventors and innovators are recognised constantly in public forums at the topmost level in the company. Innovation is very hard work, and these actions are essential to create a culture where employees believe that innovation is important to the company, and that they will be recognised and rewarded if they tackle the challenges that it involves.

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