Sponsored by TikTok
Natalia Lincoln, Elnaz Morad, and Carine Ye. Photos courtesy of TikTok.
How can you foster innovative thinking? According to innovators themselves, there are many components to consider.
“Innovation is a blend of creativity and practical problem solving,” says Carine Ye, a product manager on the Monetization Product and Tech team at TikTok. “It involves harnessing the collective strengths of your team, listening to your customers, and creating a culture that isn't afraid to make bold moves and learn from failures.” Ye also emphasizes the need to “foster an environment that encourages open dialogue and collaboration.”
Ye found an encouraging culture at TikTok, and she’s not alone. Elnaz Morad, a lead engineer supporting Global Client Relationship Management (CRM) systems, also benefits from TikTok’s culture of support. “I have a lot of experience at other companies, but the amount of support and mentorship that I get at TikTok from my female manager is above and beyond,” says Morad. “I really believe women supporting other women is the only way that we can lift each other up.” And, she believes, finding people like her manager that she can trust is essential for growth.
Trust is an essential part of TikTok’s culture, with the company entrusting employees with the autonomy to try new things, rapidly iterate, and learn from their experiences — providing limitless opportunities to build, innovate, and lead. TikTok also ensures they are fully utilizing the strengths of their talented, global, and diverse group of employees
“I believe that innovation and creativity come from diversity,” states Natalia Lincoln, interim lead on the Latin America Ecosystem team. “We need diverse viewpoints to discover new ideas, navigate through challenges, and be ready to fail, learn, and try again.”
Here, we discuss three examples of innovation that these leaders have spearheaded, along with how TikTok supports them.
As a lead on the Ecosystem team, part of Lincoln’s job is coming up with innovative solutions to streamline the product improvement process. In her role, she aims to foster content diversity and improve TikTok's content pool by collaborating with internal teams to build end-to-end solutions. This work starts with figuring out a specific concrete business needs to address.
“Every product improvement has to be grounded in clear business reasons, and everything should be supported by multiple analyses grounded in data,” states Lincoln. “This comes from correctly identifying a problem, asking questions, and testing multiple times until the solution comes to fruition.” A solution needs to have a widespread impact that is suitable for most people.
At the core of Lincoln’s work is collaboration and utilizing a diverse set of skills. “I believe in leveraging my team’s strengths and granting them autonomy,” Lincoln shares. “This approach not only fosters innovation but also empowers each team member to contribute their best, resulting in impactful and well-rounded results.” At the end of the day, Lincoln finds it very rewarding to see how so many people can join together and work toward a common goal.
For Morad, her inspiration was recognizing how TikTok’s sales and marketing team needed access to a CRM system to better understand their current status and how close they were to achieving their goals.
To address this issue, Morad and her team are working to implement a new global CRM to become “more efficient and have a better output regarding TikTok Ads. We are able to unify contacts across the system and, as a result, the reporting is so much easier,” Morad continues. “Users already have a better understanding of their progress toward their goal.”
Since the team is not only new and fast-moving, but also global, the project requires efficient collaboration across multiple regions. But the resources that are available to employees, such as the all-in-one collaboration tool Lark, help Morad and her team overcome these challenges and continue moving forward!
“One of my notable contributions at TikTok has been leading product development for carousel ads,” shares Ye. “This stands as the first-ever image-based ad format launched within the TikTok app, designed to display a dynamic collection of products that users might be interested in from various brand catalogs.”
Thanks to this feature, Ye notes that not only has the “discovery experience been enriched for TikTok users, but it has also significantly brought down the cost of producing and renewing ads, one of the advertisers’ paramount pain points on TikTok.” Since the release of this ad format, market-leading partners have immediately and extensively adopted it.
Ye stresses how important collaboration was in this process and how this success is thanks to the efforts of both her team and the wider TikTok community. The e-commerce ads team helped them pull off the API-first approach that made this feature possible. And the collaboration didn’t end here either! Ye also involved additional partners in the ideation phase and worked with engineers to come up with the finished product.
TikTok's culture of innovation is fostered at all levels due to their core set of values. The TikTok team challenges each other to never settle in times of setback or success, which they refer to as Always Day 1. They show patience in the face of obstacles and solve problems together as part of their Growing Together value. And they seek truth through data and make pragmatic decisions to benefit the business. Thanks to this, employees like Lincoln, Morad, and Ye can grow to new heights by taking on exciting challenges.
Morad says she cultivates this culture on her own team “so everybody feels comfortable providing and receiving feedback.” In fact, being Candid and Clear is also one of TikTok’s values.
Nurturing a culture of constructive feedback is important to Ye as well, who notes how TikTok’s solution engineers and product marketing managers engage with clients to gather critical critiques. “This feedback becomes instrumental for us product managers to identify key pain points and opportunities for enhancement,” she says. “It helps TikTok foster a culture of innovation and product experimentation, where all members are encouraged to voice new ideas and cultivate novel solutions.”
Innovation is truly at the core of TikTok. As Lincoln puts it, “at TikTok, there is an open door to explore new processes, product improvements, and methodologies for analysis.” The possibilities at TikTok are limitless.
Looking for a creative and supportive workplace where you have the autonomy to innovate? Consider joining the TikTok team.
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