Involve your employees and improve your innovation culture

Why involving your employees can help you creating a sustainable innovation culture of engaged innovators that continuously look for new business ideas

Written by Morten Benn
October 24th, 2019

Why look outside of your company to find the next big thing, when your greatest resource is right at your fingertips? Involve your employees instead! When engaging your co-workers, you tap into a vast source of knowledge, for free. You create a sustainable innovation culture of engaged employees that continuously look for new business opportunities and improvement.

Why companies don’t involve employees in finding the “next big thing” but should do so.

Today, many companies are still organized by an organisational model that dates back to the 19th-century. A time where people on top were more insightful and knowledgeable than the ones below. However, in a more fast-paced and specialized world knowledge has become increasingly dispersed. The person who has first-hand market or customer experience is often far away from the forum that decides and allocates resources. So why are some organisations still attached to an outdated model? A model that prevents them from quickly responding to changes in the market and from using the vast knowledge already existing in the organisation to their advantage.  

Involving employees in innovation processes requires the existing corporate culture to change and evolve. However, we all know that changing a culture that has been established over decades is not an easy task and often faces resistance. Therefore, many companies instead look for ideas outside of the organisation. At the same time they lose the ability to innovate internally. Unfortunately, employees with years of experience and unique insights into markets, customers or supply chains feel left out and unappreciated. As a result, they tend to resist ideas from the outside and are reluctant to create new ones themselves. Moreover, large organisations often lack the experience and tools on how to best involve thousands of employees across geographical and organisational borders and thus are reluctant to do so. 

 

How you can turn the wheel around and start building an innovation culture starting today

Although your organisation might face some of the above-mentioned obstacles, the silver lining is that we can overcome them. As Deborah Ancona, Professor of Organization Studies at MIT, wrote in her recent Harvard Business Review article, “all organizations have the ability to be smarter than the sum of their members’ intelligence and talent”. So how can you ensure to take advantage of the immense potential that lies within your organisation?

To harvest the collective intelligence of your organisation and build a culture of innovation, you need to have a few things in place:

  1. Create tools that allow everyone to communicate strategically about innovation. Good ideas can come from all corners of a company, but would-be innovators may need help developing a strong strategic argument for their idea.
  2. Create a transparent decision-making process that is agile and involves the right people (not necessarily all the usual decision-makers).
  3. Vet and refine ideas collectively and continuously, realising that uncertainty is a feature, not a bug that must be eliminated.
  4. Get a few leaders’ commitment to do anything they can to clear the way for promising new projects and get the resources needed. 

How Nosco can help you get there faster

Idea management platforms, such as the Nosco platform come with the functionalities that support you in building the above-mentioned foundations of creating a culture of innovation.  

Innovators can easily submit their ideas in line with the strategic search field laid out by executive management and collaborate with team members from all corners of the organisation. Furthermore, it enables you to decide on which ideas to move forward in a transparent manner and instantly provide valuable feedback. Dedicated leaders can start multiple initiatives and projects with just a few clicks and thus increase the speed in which you develop ideas and innovate. 

The Nosco platform has enabled our clients to solve issues that are business-critical, using fewer resources and creating a transparent workflow in the process. They have created pools of ideas that continue to be the sources of new innovations even after projects have ended. With a clear and lean innovation process and limited involvement of management they manage to make decisions on horizon 2 and 3 projects in a sound and agile manner. Something that can be a real challenge in a busy performance-focused organisation. Not only do they reduced time spent on meetings, workshops etc., they also reach global sites and functions in a completely new way.

Our recommendations to get started

You don’t need to go big, to get started. In fact, if you can show results with a swift process and limited resources, you will have a much better chance of getting another project going. The most critical factor is that you take action. 

Here are our recommendations:

  1. Build a digital infrastructure for successful innovation.
  2. Decide on a proof of concept project, asking a defined group to solve an important business challenge or go all in from the beginning, and ask everybody in the company!
  3. Make sure to have buy-in from the project (problem) owner and direct access to key supporters
  4. Build a transparent decision and feedback process. 
  5. Communicate results and benefits widely.
  6. Do it again and again!

Few things are more fulfilling in modern professional life than seeing your ideas become real. To feel your voice was heard and to know that you made a difference. By involving everybody in your organisation in your innovation efforts you not only create happy employees but simultaneously start building a culture of innovation.

Want to get started in involving your employees? - Morten is happy to talk to you.

Get in touch - morten@nos.co