Experts of Katalyst: Nixon Xavier on How to Achieve Organizational Innovation
Discover how an accomplished tech leader uses the concepts of cooking to leverage workplace innovation.
When it comes to organizational innovation, there’s no such thing as too many chefs in the kitchen according to Nixon Xavier, Vice President of Innovation at Katalyst. In the past couple of years, he’s achieved tremendous strides in encouraging creativity and originality across the business units that form Katalyst. Evidenced through his numerous awards and fruitful Innovation Kitchen series, Nixon is a true executive chef of innovation. As a champion of innovation, Nixon reflects on what he’s achieved, what’s left to do, and how being a tech enthusiast AND experimental cook helps him better serve Katalyst and our partners.
- What is your role and responsibility at Katalyst regarding innovation?
I am the VP of Innovation at Katalyst Technologies Inc., a provider of cutting-edge software, technologies services, and solutions. Our offerings work seamlessly across multiple industries and locations – making Katalyst a trusted technology partner for servicing the enterprise.
As VP of Innovation at Katalyst, my role is to encourage creativity and originality within the organization for optimal business growth. To do so, I’ve adopted a “Process, People and Systems” model that creates a unique experience for our clients. In this model, every process can be improved by collaborating with people and using accurate information gathered from internal and external systems.
As a technology enthusiast, I’ve worked in the industry for 28 years now. I love playing a vital role in the development of multi-disciplinary teams across all product innovations at Katalyst. My goal is to continue to work closely with every unit to give each member a voice in the innovation process.
- Can you tell us about your recent Innovator of the Year award hosted by Great Place To Work (GPTW)?
Sure, GPTW is an organization with a mission to build a better world by helping organizations become great places to work for all. GPTW collects industry-defining Trust Index Surveys from employees to determine finalists.
Katalyst has made the GPTW list by building and maintaining an incredible workplace culture where employees continually feel trusted and respected. This certification is an affirmation that Katalyst goes above and beyond to invest in its employees, build a workplace culture that is one-of-a-kind and allows everyone to bring their whole self to work. It shows that Katalyst has a compassionate culture – one where everyone is treated with kindness, dignity, and respect. Katalyst feels more like a family than a company. Not only do we look forward to working, we feel pride in what we do.
The GPTW Innovator of Leadership award, on the other hand, honors individuals for their contributions to innovation that have resulted in a significant business impact on the organization, thus making it a great place to work. To be considered for the GPTW Innovator of Leadership award, GPTW looks for leaders who have consistently played critical roles in helping to deliver on strategic growth and business goals while truly living the values and authentic leadership that has shaped the success of the organization.
- Congratulations! How do you feel after receiving the award?
It was a great honor to receive the award during the GPTW For All Leadership Awards Gala in the presence of the industry’s greatest minds and experts. I see the award as recognition for the entire Katalyst team in successfully building a strong and inclusive innovation culture. I’m delighted to lead a team of enthusiastic and creative technology chefs in our innovation kitchen. This award reflects Katalyst’s commitment towards our customers in providing products and services backed by the latest innovative technologies. I am so proud of our team and excited for future projects!
- What helped you achieve this award?
A year ago, our CEO, Rahul Shah asked me to lead the Innovation business unit, and I am very thankful to him for giving me that opportunity. I was very confident that innovation could revolutionize the company’s dynamics and provide a better experience to our customers. Since then, I have launched the Katalyst Innovation Kitchen series, which has motivated many employees to get creative and step out of their comfort zone. The series has encouraged associates to create many innovative solutions and has shaped an environment that promotes innovation in many aspects of Katalyst.
- What is the Katalyst Innovation Kitchen series and how did you come up with the concept?
The Katalyst Innovation Kitchen is a virtual forum where anyone in the company can share and discuss their ideas. It allows us to learn about new and upcoming technologies and breakdown the silos separating teams, allowing everyone in the company to benefit from developments on specific groups. Our goal is to establish a physical “Innovation Kitchen” in every Katalyst location that can serve as an incubator space for the ideas that result from these discussions.
The idea started with my kitchen at home. During weekends, I sometimes cook for my family and friends. I am an experimental cook, so I always try to test different ingredients and incorporate different tastes into the dishes. In doing so, I’ve realized the striking parallelism between what I do in the kitchen and what I do for my customers. For our customers, we are trying different ingredients that will bring out a product that best suits their taste.
- How does the Katalyst Innovation Kitchen series impact Katalyst as a whole?
The idea of the Katalyst Innovation Kitchen was an essential step for Katalyst and continues to shape the company today. Employees at Katalyst have collaborated to create an open platform that encourages everyone, from junior associates to C-level executives, to innovate together.
Since the launch of the Katalyst Innovation Kitchen series, the company has experienced a significant change in its working environment. This movement has helped many employees become more creative and involved in the innovative process at Katalyst. By encouraging discussion and ideas, the company has addressed many new solutions for its customers and clients. These initiatives helped Katalyst to adopt innovation internally, analyze the competitive landscape, and reveal gaps and potential opportunities.
The Katalyst Innovation Kitchen has also successfully brought innovation to our flagship products. For instance, we’ve incorporated Machine Learning into our copyediting tools to reduce Turnaround time (TAT) and added Conditional Random Field Segmentation models to our tools like Casper and EditGenie. We’ve also added Pick Path Optimization to our WMS solution, Celero 2.0, for an effective picking process in the warehouse.
Katalyst’s broad range of products in Enterprise Resource Planning, Boardshare Publishing, AI Based chatbots, and Amazon Alexa Extensions are all great examples of successes from the innovative culture. The Innovation Kitchen series has brought the company closer to one another and built a stronger community within the employees.
- How do other Katalyst team members contribute to innovation?
Every member of Katalyst has shaped the Katalyst Innovation Kitchen in their own way. From new interns to senior board members, innovation at Katalyst is a collaborative effort that includes all. Each team has brought their expertise and creativity to the products and have worked together to reach the final design.
- How do you motivate teams to contribute to the innovation journey?
An essential part of Katalyst’s organizational structure has been a friendly, open environment that values every opinion, building the foundation for the heart and soul of their inventions. The close-knit community at Katalyst allows employees to feel comfortable sharing their ideas at the table and allows for more creativity through discussion and collaboration.
The Katalyst framework centers around its Strategic Innovation Plan which includes introducing an Idea Junction for all employees, hosting Hackathons, maintaining a Continuous Feedback System, collaborating through a Digital Whiteboard, co-innovating with customers/partners, and celebrating every success along the way!
- What inspired or motivated you to get involved in the innovation process?
There are no locked doors in the world of creativity, and I wanted every person on the Katalyst team to find their limitless potential. Outside of work, I’m involved in mentoring the next generation of entrepreneurs through STEM4Girls, an organization that encourages students to participate in STEM through challenges and competitions like FIRST Robotics, eCYBERMISSION, and Source America Design Challenge. Working with these remarkable students has helped me learn the importance of sharing knowledge and that everyone can contribute towards creative ideas. The ability to learn from others and think critically about problems are important to the workplace. I think it’s always important to keep an open mind; the best discoveries can come from the most unintended outcomes in the iterative process!
An open environment that values every opinion is the bread and butter of innovation, as Nixon suggests. So, what do you say? Experiment with your own set of different flavors and stir ideas across your teams to liven up your organization. In the end, you’ll have a plate of fresh, unique results that will give your company the zest it needs to fulfill optimal business growth.
Feel free to reach out to Nixon with your innovation technology-related questions by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by connecting with him on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/nixonxavier.