In many industries, innovation can take a back seat to business as usual. It can feel unnecessary to innovate if everything is running smoothly already. But Matt Waggoner, Managing Director of JLL Indianapolis, chose to look at things a different way and ask: Why not innovate?
JLL is a commercial real estate services firm founded in 1783, with over 300 offices worldwide in 80 different countries, including an office here in Indianapolis since 2008. As an established business, JLL knows what works and what has worked for them over the years.
While the business was thriving here in Indy, there was a need for a tool to help clients think outside the box and celebrate innovation. Matt Waggoner recognized the need to elevate the workspace conversation in the commercial real estate industry, and set out to create the solution.
Matt wanted to elevate workspace innovation, but didn’t exactly know how. He recognized that people often saw workspace as a cost, but when given proper attention it could be viewed as a business asset. There needed to be a place where clients, businesses, and design enthusiasts could go to explore workspaces and get inspired for their own workspace.
Matt put together a first version of the Spaces website, where companies throughout Indiana could showcase their innovative workspaces for others to gain inspiration. And to motivate companies to add their space to the site, the team orchestrated an awards competition where the best workspaces in four categories would win.
The competition went even better than expected, and a design innovation community formed. This proved to Matt that there was passion for workspace innovation, as well as a community of people who wanted to share ideas about it. The next question was: How can we take it to the next level?
Matt first partnered with Innovatemap to understand the larger opportunity in front of him. We started with research: Interviewing and gaining insights from those who participated in the Spaces competition, JLL employees, and other successful online communities.
After the research, the team aligned on a vision: Spaces would be an online platform for people in interior design and real estate to showcase their innovative workspaces. It should be a place to collaborate, share ideas, and browse workspaces around the country. It would be a hub of inspiration for companies to display their success in achieving unique workspace design and attracting top talent—and gives others the inspiration to do the same.
We developed a vision deck and concept screens to communicate this vision with the JLL leadership team outside of Indianapolis. This was an important step towards unifying the team around a central vision, and determining next steps for a successful initiative.
After a year of pitching, getting feedback, iterating on the product, and painting the vision for Spaces, the JLL leadership team was excited to move forward with the larger vision for the Spaces platform. Innovatemap and JLL partnered again to design the entire Spaces product and create a cohesive Spaces brand identity. A comprehensive brand enablement guide equipped the entire organization with the tools needed to promote and grow this new product.
Spaces launched in May of 2019 and has already expanded to multiple markets across the country, with additional markets expected in 2020. Matt Waggoner and JLL Indianapolis created a thought-leadership initiative, knowing that the workspace conversation was evolving. They wanted to help others achieve their ambition while also giving them the inspiration and practical resource to do so. This is where Spaces was born.
By exploring what digital innovation could do for JLL’s core business, they established themselves as the resource for workspace design and have transformed themselves from a real estate company to a technology company that also does real estate.
- When looking to get buy-in for your idea from executives, make sure to tie the idea to their core revenue model. What will this product do for the business in the long run? How will this initiative elevate your organization?
- Technology is a horizontal, not a vertical. By exploring the ways that technology can complement your core business you can find your edge, elevate the work you’re doing, and stand out against competition.
- Don’t be afraid to suggest ideas, even if you aren’t at the executive level. It is often those actually doing the work and interacting with consumers that recognize the best opportunities for innovation.