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Get Started with Innovation

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Describe the profile of someone who enjoys customer-centric innovation methods.
  • Describe three characteristics of the Salesforce culture of innovation.
  • Understand the phases of our customer-centric innovation process.

Greetings, Innovator

By starting this trail, you’ve raised your hand as someone who’s constantly thinking about better ways to get things done. Ask yourself if any of these characteristics sound like you.

  • Friction Fighter—I want to “appify” my life, both inside and outside of work.
  • Benevolent Troublemaker—I’ll stop meetings to challenge status quo thinking and advocate for disruption.
  • Futurist—I’m ready for a world run by artificial intelligence.
  • Innovation Dive Master—I’m skilled in different innovation approaches and need tools to share best practices with my team.

Did you say “yaaasss!!!” to one or more? Of course you did! You have a passion for problem-solving, and we can relate. Let us tell you a bit about how and why we wear the hats listed above.

Innovation @ Salesforce

What does innovation mean at Salesforce? Well, it’s…everything, really. Let’s share three components that sum it up.

Picture of a Pride parade, with people marching in Outforce tshirts, blowing bubbles, and waving streamers

It’s Cultural

Around here, innovation isn’t something that only engineers or secret teams lead. We collectively share the responsibility to innovate. We see our family as our colleagues, customers, and community. We take pride in channeling this idealism into innovation that helps the world around us. This spirit inspires our innovative product, business model, philanthropy model, and social activism for equality.

It’s Customer-Focused

Salesforce was founded on a simple principle: We exist to help our customers (YOU) succeed. Every single employee is empowered to obsessively solve the unmet needs of your company and your end users. This customer-centric ethos inspired us to invent cloud-based CRM and expand it to become a holistic platform and partner ecosystem. This ecosystem helps bring you closer to your customer: from sales and service to analytics and connected devices.

It’s Continuous

Our leadership—from CEO to COO to CFO—understands that innovation is necessary for our success and continued market leadership. So, regardless of the economic climate, we invest in the things that keep us innovative. At a project level, we know that customer needs change. Therefore, our product, marketing, and sales strategies must also change. We know that innovation work is never done—we embrace the ongoing evolution and journey.

Our Customer-Centric Innovation Process

So what’s our secret sauce? We believe that every employee, regardless of seniority level or function, can lead innovation. It takes more than transformative ideas—it also takes process. This trail shares our approach to innovation process management, and you’ll find that brainstorming is only one piece. It’s just as much about creating an environment for change, design thinking, customer and trend research, stakeholder alignment, prototyping, and implementation planning. We use this method everyday inside our business and with our external customers to co-create bold solutions. We’ve applied the method to small startups, nonprofits, SMEs, and the Fortune 1000 companies in every industry across the globe.

Salesforce’s innovation approach has five phases.

Flowchart: Define, Discover, Dare, Do, Drive
  1. Define an innovation project and the key stakeholders you’ll involve.
  2. Discover the needs and opportunities of your customer.
  3. Dare to imagine a bold solution to fulfill your customers’ needs.
  4. Do the work to rapidly demonstrate the validity of your concept and how it will work.
  5. Drive momentum to ensure adoption and growth of your vision.

Modules 2–5 map to these phases, so we recommend completing them sequentially.

Before we move on to the heart of our innovation process, we have a caveat. These phases are only a selection of methods that we find useful to guiding innovation. Some are our own, others are best practices we’ve learned from others. There are, of course, many, many successful approaches. We can’t wait to hear from you and the strategies you have found helpful. Who knows, your strategy might find its way to a future version of this trail!

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