Reflecting on Anaplan: What Makes for a Disruptive Company?

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If you have ever wondered what it’s like to sit amongst a group of Disruptors, join the best team in the industry at Anaplan. I’m actually very serious!

I just finished dinner with my team, and they’ve left me reflecting on what it means to Disrupt amongst the best. Anaplan represents a talent pool of global-minded, bright, engaging, wickedly smart and very driven professionals. To my right and left, I can learn and teach at the same time. It’s rare in one’s career that you have the privilege of working amongst such a group.

This is my third experience (I’m lucky). My first “ah ha” moment amongst such a group was when I lived in London. I learned what it really meant to be a citizen of the world, and I learned what it meant to be global. My second experience was being a part of the SuccessFactors team as we helped define Cloud Saas Model in HR. Now, my third amazing opportunity takes all I’ve learned thus far and requires a different twist – DISRUPTION.

I’ve come to realize that disruptive technology is inherently tied to the culture in which it is created. You have to foster and maintain a healthy path to disruption, but how does this actually play out? I’m still learning at Anaplan, but here are a few markers that I’ve identified:

1. Be a culture that’s not afraid of making mistakes. Failure is the friend of innovation! As the famous story goes, Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times on his way to perfecting the light bulb. I say organizations need to go so far as to celebrate failure and reward healthy risk. Think of failure as simply adding data points to finding the right solution! Company cultures need to make friends with failure.

2. Innovation doesn’t just happen in Product. Whether you’re junior or senior level, in an admin role or part of the development team, you are responsible for innovation across the company. While departmental/job interdependencies may not always be immediately visible, every gear in a company does ultimately work together on some level—and thus all need to be streamlined and primed. Your goal should be improving on (innovating!) every aspect of your job—even the most trivial of tasks. Don’t just settle for a process that works…make it a process that flies. Creative improvements to a process or a workflow have a bigger radius of impact than you may realize. You most likely won’t be just improving your own life; you’ll be positively impacting your coworkers’ lives for the better, too! In aggregation, every small innovation is a gain toward total company innovation.

3. Out-of-the-box ideas should be treated with respect. It’s beside the point whether an idea is ultimately executed on; each and every idea (I’m serious) is gold and should be encouraged! Out-of-the-box thinking must be encouraged. Shame or fear of proposing an idea is the death of innovation. As with mistakes, no one should be afraid of proposing an idea.

The above list will continue growing as I spend more time at Anaplan but the bottom line is this: What’s consistent across this group of bright, engaging, smart people is a spirit of courage. “No Fear” isn’t just a slogan. For the Disruptor, it’s got to be an everyday mantra. No fear of ideas. No fear of mistakes.

We can all continue to learn and disrupt not just to create value, but also to change the way we get things done. Let’s innovate to make our jobs simpler … not harder. Let’s elevate the learning value of making mistakes … not hide or shame them. Let’s figure out ways to help people connect with technology, not put it between us. At Anaplan, that is part of our core, so it makes sense that it is also the core of our product. In an industry first, we’ve created a platform that puts the business user in charge of models and plans. Build, deploy, modify, and optimize them … immediately. We’ve removed barriers to making business processes truly data-driven. In turn, we’re actually increasing our users’ job satisfaction.

So I challenge everyone to start thinking about how you will disrupt and make things better. If you see a problem – fix it! If you see an easier or better way of doing work – point it out! If at your core, you always want to Disrupt … join Anaplan!

I run into work everyday … will I run into you? I hope so – come Disrupt with us.

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