The pandemic clearly showed us that we should always be innovative in navigating industry shocks and crises. Most firms now recognize the value of fostering innovation in the workplace.
In fact, firms that were innovative before the pandemic prospered and thrived. For example, during the lockdown, Amazon added $401 billion to its market cap. However, the less innovative firms struggled, and some exited the market.
Most companies learnt their lessons and now have a burning desire to be innovative. We all want to thrive during the next disruption and crisis. But where do you start? Where do you even get the innovative ideas in the first place?
The main sources of innovative ideas are your key stakeholders:
Your customers and employees are two major essential innovation assets. Focusing on your customers’ needs helps you provide better offers that satisfy them. But, you should provide the offers in ways that are exceptional than your competition.
Employee innovation can help you with that. Your employees have direct contact with customers, from the sales and marketing team to the product development team. At the same time, they are responsible for developing the products you offer.
So, they are best placed to flip customers’ feedback into product development to satisfy the users. Also, they can pick up some unseen gaps that you can leverage into new opportunities for growth.
That makes your employees a major asset to your innovation capacity. For example, Google’s 20% rule allows employees to focus on innovative projects to benefit the firm. It has helped in the development of products like Google Adsense. Now Fortune 500 firms have innovation officers to help tap new ideas from employees.
So, your employees should have a voice in strategic management choices if you want to take advantage of innovative suggestions. Here are ways you can tap innovative opportunities from employees.
1. Leverage Innovation Tools and Resources
You must first have the right resources and innovation strategy. That includes relevant tools and processes to help pick, evaluate, nurture and scale your innovative ideas.
Employees can benefit from an idea management platform to share and bolster their ideas. The best idea management software should have integrated metrics to assess the viability of innovative ideas. As a result, the platform will conceptualize ideas and nurture them to scale.
To reinforce the platform as part of your innovation strategy, include it in your workflows and processes. The goal is to empower your employees with the relevant tools and resources to unleash their innovative potential.
2. Create Room for Mistakes
Every innovative idea present today had several failed trials. Therefore, failure is an integral part of innovation. Penalizing your staff for any innovative failures does more harm than good.
Often, this will make them dread failure and prevent creative thinking from them. Besides, this strategy kills any innovative idea they could have come up with.
There is no way one can nurture creativity through fear. Allowing your staff to make mistakes helps them to think freely without fear of constraints. So this makes it easy for your employees to think beyond their usual scope of work.
Besides, by giving them time to experiment, you should reward their inventive behaviours. McKnight’s 15% time helps to boost a culture of innovation. Employees can use this time to develop an innovative idea they prefer in any field.
Ensure you develop a culture of celebrating and acknowledging both wins and failures. To boost employee creativity in your organization, you should embrace celebrating wins.
3. Protect Your Worker’s Mental Health
Job safety and mental well-being are essential for everyone. Therefore, it’s critical if you accomplish this aspect in your organization.
If making a mistake could put their careers at risk, employees won’t want to participate in any creative projects.
Ensure that your personnel can offer new policies and products without being concerned about how it might harm their jobs.
Investing in the most cutting-edge innovation management tool will pay off more. The platform will let employees acquire, distribute, route, assess, experiment with, develop, track, and report on your business’s most important information.
Integrate this instrument with precise guidelines, with an aim to encourage creativity within a business. Additionally, ensure your staff members know that the outcome of their creative concept won’t impact their careers.
4. Recognize Every Employee’s Efforts
The junior and mid-level employees usually have the brightest and most valuable ideas. This is because they spend more time with the products, suppliers, services, and customers daily.
Everyone and every place can influence innovation. Ensure you recognize the junior staff’s efforts to gain from their insights.
Senior-level employees often ignore or stifle less seasoned workers’ opinions. Encourage open dialogue among team members without discounting opposing viewpoints if you want to assist your employees in taking advantage of opportunities for creativity.
An innovative idea may not seem viable initially, but it may become feasible with some tweaking. Do not use excessive control when brainstorming for innovative ideas.
Introduce a conventional suggestion box and update it with technology to collect suggestions from front-line employees. The idea management system allows specialists to offer suggestions for improving it.
5. Leverage Intrapreneurship Programs
You’re an intrapreneur when you think like an entrepreneur but bring your innovative ideas to an organization you work for.
Employees appreciate a structured program that encourages innovation. This creates a clear outlet for fresh ideas and confirms to them that you’re passionate about innovative ideas.
Invest in a committed group of coaches or mentors so that they can regularly oversee intrapreneurship programs. They will help your employees turn their ideas into something real and valuable.
Moreover, you will also gain from their knowledge during product development. This is because they’re more knowledgeable in marketing and legal issues.
Companies should leverage their employee’s unique innovation potential by fostering intrapreneurship. Besides, this will encourage your staff to work on new ventures using the assets and skills of the established businesses.
It is prudent to support intrapreneurs. This will help you create innovative solutions to products and services beneficial to your clients. Doing this will benefit the organization, employees, and customers.
6. Make Them Accountable For The Result
Tasking your employees with the ownership of an innovative project outcome is the best approach. You stand to benefit from their innovative ideas and reward their creative input simultaneously.
It is natural for individuals to go all out and come up with unique ideas when they believe they influence a project.
So they will always view the project’s success as their success. Therefore, inspiring them to seek out more creative methods to make it happen.
It takes effort to explore the full potential of innovation among staff. Besides, boosting your employees’ innovative culture takes time and effort.
Also, you’ll need to be somewhat forgiving of mistakes and errors to unlock your employees’ innovation’s full potential.
But spend money on the best idea management software to make your work easier. Moreover, empowering the front-line personnel and utilizing intrapreneurship programs will set you ahead of your competitors.
Also, letting your employees take full responsibility for the project’s outcome will help them unlock their creative thinking.