In this Innovation Advisory Council Spotlight, we're highlighting Joseph Kim, Executive Vice President of Engineering and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Citrix. Joseph is responsible for the development and delivery of all Citrix technology solutions. Harnessing the innovation power of the company's global engineering workforce, he leads R&D across all areas of the business.
Q: How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?
There is a balance between art and process in encouraging creativity and innovation.
I fully believe in providing individuals with autonomy and space, both physical and time, while building a combination of hard processes and measurements to illustrate progress. Some examples are… keeping track of patent submissions, how much innovation makes it to product backlogs, instituting activities like Hackathons, etc.
Most important item of note is that in the creative and innovation process, failures will occur. You can certainly guide the activities by providing boundaries, but it will absolutely occur… and it will occur often! Leaders must not only say that “controlled failure is okay,” but when it does occur – quickly acknowledge it, fix it and move on without fanfare (i.e., show that it is okay).
Q: How have you seen innovation change/be affected by the current business environment?
The current business environment has leveled the playing field for many of us.
Under a year ago some of us were together in offices, or at other office locations, while some were working remote. Today’s environment has put pressure on all of us to test the full capacity of collaboration platforms.
While individual productivity has gone up, it has been challenging to have discussions and debates in driving innovation. As we look to empower our teams with the right tools, while providing both physical space and time leaders need to continue to push for better ways to virtualize the randomness of the “water cooler” moment for our teams.
Q: What kind of leader are you?
I do not really like to label “leadership.” With that said, the most recent feedback I’ve received regarding my leadership style “transformation leader” or “new-age leader” who is open-minded and a good listener.
Generally, my principals are:
• Discussions and debate between smart people will lead to the best decisions and outcomes – I have a strong point of view and I will certainly share that with the team, but I will rarely push something top-down outside of extraordinary circumstances.
• Teams that have a growth mindset become a high-performing organization – we can design perfect, but there are many, many variables on why you might not get to perfect. Having a growth mindset to be better today than you were yesterday ensure complacency doesn’t set in… and that urgency is part of the team culture.
• Either your activities are adding to the Strategic Direction of the team, organization and/or company… or it does not – I don’t believe in separating out “tactical items” vs. “strategic items…” this leads to confusion and poor direction for the team, organization and/or company.
• Be Authentic – consistently communication across all levels; if you don’t know something… just say “I don’t know, but I will find out;” trust takes long time to build but it can be broken in one event!
• Be an active/conscious leader – trying to label rare talents like Steve Jobs a “leader” is a hard act to follow… but if in every interaction with people – on the team, peers, managers, or even people on the street you approach them with the intent to inspire… you can transform someone’s life or at a minimum make their day without even knowing it! I fail at this every day… but I also want to get better every day
What has been the biggest change to your routine with COVID-19?
Striking a balance in my work and family life is vital to me. I work a lot, but I think I’ve been even working more so than ever before. Although, I work from home now, I get to see my family less! So, I’ve had to consciously make some adjustments in order to make sure that I make time for health and family
How has your productivity been affected by working from home?
Individual productivity is WAY UP, but decisions that require discussions/partnering have been taking longer. I am constantly challenging myself to find new ways to drive better and faster group decisions