Creating a Culture of Innovation: Trust, Time, and Tools

Overjet
3 min readDec 20, 2022

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Overjet was founded on a big idea: to use AI to improve oral health for everyone. Four years later, we have had an impact on making dentistry more clinically precise and patient-focused, but our work and ideas are only getting started. As our team continues to grow, our success depends on what we can do collectively to realize our goals and scale our impact.

Innovation at Overjet is a key priority; we know we cannot achieve our potential without building and sustaining a culture that champions this. At the business level, innovation continuously moves us forward and delivers value to our clients and customers. For our team, innovation gives high-caliber individuals the opportunity to try, learn and grow.

We attract and hire individuals who are incredible at what they do. Once they are here, it is our responsibility to ensure we are cultivating an environment in which innovation exists not by chance but by intention and commitment. We have an opportunity to build a future of dentistry that greatly impacts millions of lives. Achieving this mission requires constant experimentation and daring to do things that previously we did not think were possible.

At Overjet, we work to identify the beliefs and behaviors that foster innovation. We are learning in real time, and we focus on progress rather than perfection. We are focused on “the three T’s”: trust, time, and tools.

Trust

Trust is the foundation on which we work and build. Trust enables team members to challenge one another and, in doing so, empowers teams as a unit to think bigger. Trust allows individuals to challenge assumptions and the status quo regardless of title. From here, trust enables calculated risk. For example, we aim to complete a blameless retrospective after every project completion. We have templates for these, which encourage teams to view these as opportunities to learn and improve. We need our teams to trust that ideas won’t be pointlessly criticized and new endeavors will not be penalized if they fail. We don’t do this in lieu of holding a high-performance bar but rather as part of it. We keep teams accountable for results and document learnings for future reference, but trust allows freedom from fear in the ideation and experimentation process.

Time

Time is a gift, particularly at a fast-moving startup! It is also our most expensive resource. As busy as our teams are, we all need time to tinker and build. Only when teams step away from the day-to-day can they ponder the most significant untapped opportunities. This is a conscious effort. We host an annual company-wide hackathon, which encourages people to focus on new ideas and problems, self-organize and work in cross-functional teams to solve these problems. Time allows us to step back, rethink, and solve the real problem. The time we invest upfront in this kind of problem-solving is what often saves the most meaningful time later.

Tools

Tools are the systems and skills we use to do our work. Tools matter because they can usually determine whether we do our best work. It’s critical that we keep pace with the industry and listen to our teams’ needs. Some tools are job-specific; for example, code needs to be easy to build so that teams can build and innovate faster. Other tools serve the whole company, often working to reinforce our values and priorities. For example, at Overjet, we use an “Issue/Proposed Solution” method to help individuals unpack problems and identify ownership and shared accountability for change.

As we grow, having a handful of people focused on innovation is not enough. We know we need to get everyone involved and make innovation a shared and top-down priority. We will do this by talking regularly about the three T’s, monitoring results, and iterating quickly, just like we would any other business objective. We believe that our most innovative years are still ahead…and what could be more exciting and motivating than that?

If you would like to be part of the most innovative company in dentistry, contact us at careers@overjet.ai or click here to apply.

— By Allison Keavey and Wardah Inam

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