The secrets to building a disruptive culture

Sponsored By: Intuit Canada

One of the biggest obstacles to innovation is a culture that doesn’t embrace change, according to CIOs.

But that isn’t stopping Intuit—the global technology platform behind products like TurboTax, Credit Karma, QuickBooks and Mailchimp. It’s continuously leading the industry because of its unique culture of innovation. That’s the key to its ability to quickly transform its products using the latest technologies like artificial intelligence.

“We think of ourselves as a 40-year-old start-up,” said David Marquis, Vice President, and Intuit’s Canada Country Manager. ‘We’re passionate about finding new ways to solve our customers’ most important financial problems.”

It didn’t happen overnight. Intuit began its journey to revamp its culture over a decade ago. Marquis shared three of the secrets behind the company’s winning formula.

They’re obsessed with their customers

“Everything we do starts with our mission of powering prosperity,” said Marquis. “Our customers around the world all have the same needs – they’re just trying to make ends meet and save some money.” He noted that entrepreneurs face additional challenges as they try to find customers, get paid on time, access capital, and ensure their books are right.

Through its mission and its core values, the company promotes a singular mindset among employees. “Never stop asking the same basic question: how can we solve a customer’s most pressing problem? It’s the north star, and everything needs to be guided by it to focus on the right things,” said Marquis. With this mindset, employees aim to deliver three benefits to customers: put more money in their pockets, eliminate work, and save time for people.

There’s a methodology behind the mindset. It’s called Customer Driven Innovation (CDI). The framework helps employees zero in on unresolved problems that are important to customers, and that the company can fix. “This is where there’s an opportunity to deliver a big improvement in our customers’ lives,” said Marquis.

For example, Intuit has recently introduced advanced conversational capability to its products, explained Marquis. “Customers can now verbally ask QuickBooks questions like ‘Hey, who owes me money?’ For a small business owner, that’s a lot better than having to navigate ten different screens to find that list of outstanding accounts,” he said.

Products are designed to delight

Another core element of Intuit Canada’s innovation approach is known as “Design for Delight (D4D)”. This starts with deep empathy for the customer’s pain point. The goal is to step into the shoes of customers by connecting with them and watching a normal business day. “Our goal is to fall in love with the problem, and not our own solutions,” said Marquis.

The next step is to brainstorm a broad list of ideas to solve the problem. Potential solutions are narrowed down by running experiments with customers to find out what works and what doesn’t. “We want to land on a solution that goes above and beyond customer expectations,” Marquis said. “This is what makes our culture unique and drives the pace of innovation we’re known for.”

It’s everyone’s job to innovate

Every employee at Intuit is encouraged to think like an entrepreneur to invent new and better ways to help customers, said Marquis. To help foster this culture, teams have the freedom to work autonomously and to take risks to push the boundaries of what its AI-driven platform can do. “Our goal is to give our people the opportunity to do the best work of their lives at Intuit Canada,” Marquis said.

The company’s Global Engineering Days are a great example of this, he explained. Twice a year, it gives all engineering teams a week to set aside their regular work and dive into projects they’re passionate about. “We’re empowering our people to choose their own innovation adventure,” said Marquis. The approach has led to many products that are now available to help customers. As a result of one of those projects, the company was able to globally scale AI-powered autocomplete technology for its accounting software to support languages that read both right-to-left and left-to-right. This saves significant time for customers by reducing repetitive data entry.

“I truly believe that this kind of purpose-driven work, combined with a culture of empowerment, will keep the fires of innovation burning brightly well into the future,” said Marquis.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Sponsored By: Intuit Canada

Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker has over 20 years of experience in IT-related fields in the public and private sectors, as a lawyer and strategic advisor. She is a former broadcast journalist, currently working as a consultant, freelance writer and editor.