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The Innovation by All Journey at Cadence

The Innovation by All Journey at Cadence

After a lull in innovation, over the past decade Cadence rejuvenated its innovation abilities to the point that it creates six to eight new products each year, resulting in over 20 new products in the last three years. This is the result of a new  inclusive approach to problem solving—what we call Innovation By All—by Cadence’s highly-skilled and long-tenured employees, as well as new talent who were brought in from outside. 

Moore’s Law is the industry rule-of-thumb that the number of transistors on a chip doubles about every two years. Given that historically exponential rate of growth in transistor density leading to a lot more functionality being integrated on a single chip, designing new electronics has become too complex to do manually. Companies use automation software by Cadence to create and validate the semiconductor chips and electronic systems that go into new products. If companies start the design process two to three years before they put out a new product, Cadence must anticipate its customers’ (design) needs at least two to three years before that. And Cadence is seeing the payoff of tapping the creativity, connections and contributions of more of its people. 

Most companies only have two employees who experience innovation for every six who do not. Cadence has almost six employees who say they experience innovation for every two who do not, practically the reverse of the norm. Even Cadence employees outside of management are invited into the innovation process, something not seen consistently in their peers across the tech industry. 

The widespread participation in coming up with better products and ideas is the result of increasing recognition for innovation at the company. Cadence now features quarterly company-wide awards for inventions, peer to peer awards for working together to support pressing customer needs and customer recognition of useful online support solutions. Cadence is further promoting its Innovation by All culture with programs where employees in many global locations have structured programs to develop their skills, network with each other, and present their ideas directly to senior executives.

For example, Sanjana Das began her Cadence career as an intern while doing her master's degree. Through the Cadence Internship program, she participated in an intern showcase for Lip-Bu Tan and the executive team. After she was hired, she was selected as a member of the Wave of Change, a group of early career employees who brought their ideas to the executive management team around improving collaboration, professional development and innovation. With leadership’s full support behind their suggestions, Cadence discovered new product ideas through a global hackathon, established a new assignment rotation program and launched a social learning platform for employees.

All told, Cadence has built a culture where the clear majority of employees create, are connected, and contribute. This Innovation By All culture far exceeds what employees at typical technology companies experience. Cadence’s egalitarian internal approach to invention and agility and openness to external critique and collaboration helps explain the company’s ability to win over customers and post strong results over the past decade. 

For the full story, read Cadence and The Culture Cure today.


Christopher Tkaczyk