Skroupa: What advice would you give to other organizations looking to develop integrated thinking into their methodology?
Dominic Tancredi: It’s important to give your employees room to develop passions outside of work. We encourage all our employees to drive their personal development and have dedicated resources and time to collaborate in their success. We try to balance this with “just for fun” events as well. Activities like game night, karaoke, and bowling give the teams opportunities to explore thinking that is outside of conventional experiences, while attending lectures and skill training help focus their growth in a guided fashion. Supporting outside passions helps us get out of “niche”-thinking, and into a place where multiple variables are able to be considered at once.
Tom Tancredi: I also believe it starts from the ground floor, as in hiring talent with an openness to integrating thinking. We managed to curate an excellent talent pool over the years and I like to think their ability to grow and adapt with the company has been a major reason for our success.
Skroupa: Can a leader be successful with conventional thinking?
Tom Tancredi: You can gain a lot from convention. Dom and I started Dom & Tom as a services business, because conventional service businesses have a business model that goes back millennia. You do a service, and people pay you for it. However, with leadership – you need to be able to change based on the culture your company has, especially as you grow past 25 employees. Dom & Tom employs 45 people, and we all have new challenges every day.
Dominic Tancredi: Frankly, the nature of our business, working with technology, doesn’t really allow us to be conventional thinkers – at least if we want to stay on cutting edge. The digital landscape is constantly changing, and it’s something we really need to be cognizant of at all times. Conventional thinking can work exceptionally well within certain industries and domains that are well-established, but with the increasingly connected, and mobile-based generation, even those industries are being disrupted and are asking for integrated thinking to support the product, process and team mentality.
Skroupa: Sustainability is a key tenement to succeed at integrated thinking. How do you implement such a nuanced process while maintaining an ongoing level of quality?
Dominic Tancredi: It’s important to be aware of the need for integrated thinking and to encourage it in our staff whenever possible, but also provide the space to let it develop naturally. We see integrated thinking as less of a process and more of a lifestyle. Rather than imposing a step-by-step process to solving problems through integrated thinking, we prefer to set up the best possible environment, and then let integrated thinking naturally evolve from there. Some organizations call it “culture” but it’s the behavior of our team’s approaches, based on their various disciplines, to have a shared understanding of our client’s space, goals and approaches. Collaborating closely with multiple disciplines and client domains pollinates our team’s understanding (as we have user experience leads working closely with web and mobile technical leads and more). What’s worked well is to encourage collaboration and relationship-building with team members to support a mentality of integrated thinking.
On November 5, 2015, Skytop Strategies will present “Symposium on Integrated Thinking: Drivers and Evolving Best Practices,” hosted by Edelman at the New York City office. Continue the discussion with Dom and Tom Tancredi and 80 company executives, institutional investors and practice leaders at this full-day symposium, designed to explore how integrated thinking improves company resilience and net performance. To inquire about attending, contact Victoria Billman at email@example.com.