We are excited to share that Thorn has been recognized as one of Fast Company’s 50 Best Workplaces for Innovators. This recognition isn’t about how we started, or one innovative idea, it recognizes the people across the organization, the partners that we work with, and the donors who believe in us who are pushing this work forward daily. Being a place where people can come to be their most creative selves, regardless of discipline, ensures that we are solving not only the problems of today, but creating space to solve new problems as well.

So what does being an innovative workplace mean to us?

Innovation means embracing failure.

We value risk as an organization and focus on failure as a way to learn and improve for the next time we take a risk. This is true for every role.

Innovation is built by embracing failure, which is only possible with trust. Being clear about our intentions, our goals, and the outcomes of our work allows us to build trust across sectors, organizations, and disciplines so that we can move forward together. Without our partnerships, we couldn’t do any of this.

Since our founding in 2012, our strong partnerships have enabled wins both big and small, many of which came from little failures along the way. We thought a program would take off, it didn’t. We thought a short-term project would provide high-yield results, it didn’t. And we said so because embracing failure allows it to be a positive experience that can then be used for growthWe acknowledge failures and successes both internally and with our partners, because we know we need them at our side and on the same page to be able to take the next step.

These learnings contributed to how we shaped a first-of-its kind fellowship program with Google.org, where 5 full-time Google engineers came in house at Thorn for 6 months. An immersive program was a new idea, and integrating the fellows required time and resources that were challenging for an organization of 20. But we took the risk and it was a success. Like always, we learned a lot, and whenever we do it again, we will have the benefit of having lived through the small failures we encountered too.

Failure is simply a step in learning for our organization.

Innovation is a process.

When we face a challenge or a goal, we work to explore options, take measured risks, refine and produce life-changing tools that stop child sexual abuse. Within Thorn, this process touches every employee. As an organization, we work closely with NGOs, law enforcement, governments, and private sector partners who touch this issue. Learning from them, we can identify the gaps and needs in the field and use our shared knowledge to design an approach to prototype, test, and deploy new solutions.

This process has driven product development at Thorn, resulting in tools that have helped identify over 10,000 child victims of abuse across more than 35 countries and have helped reduce investigative time by more than 65%.

Innovation is a culture.

We work to put the best technology in the hands of front line responders — from law enforcement to industry, as quickly as possible in order to end online child sexual abuse. This defined mission helps prioritize innovation, testing, and deployment.

Ownership and a learning mindset are all elements that are named through our employee hiring, onboarding, and growth processes. One way we foster this culture is by carving out time for teams to innovate — through internal hacks, external hacks, and direct access to partners and customers. We love showcasing work across the company through cross-functional meetings to highlight success as well as learning through failure.

And when we need help, we ask. Our product and engineering teams are directly integrated with our customers so they can receive constant feedback, explore new opportunities directly, and test new approaches/features with users directly. We engage external experts and mentors. We have a broad technical advisory council including Facebook, Google, Twitter, Trusona and 20 other companies. Team members can tap into resources and mentors at these companies at any time. These relationships infuse new thinking and help us continue to accelerate our workflow. All of our collaborators are driven by the fact that the children we serve deserve to have the best minds working on their behalf.

We’ve set a big goal — eliminating child sexual abuse from the internet — and we’ll continue to take big swings to achieve it. An innovation mindset allows us to learn and pivot as we chart a path towards something that has never been done before. While that path may not always be linear, our destination is clear: a world where every kid can be safe, curious, and happy.

Are you ready to innovate on behalf of kids? We’re hiring!