Is your organization centralized or decentralized when it comes to innovation? In a company where innovation is centralized, a specific department is tasked with innovating for the entire organization. The downside of using this model is that buy-in from other departments. It may be hard to achieve as the innovation department may seem out of touch with other departmental processes etc. So how do you level up the entire brainstorming capacity of your workforce? How do you invest in your employees’ creativity?
In an organization that follows decentralized innovation, everyone is tasked with contributing to the innovation process for the greater good of the company. This model can be challenging if there is no effective communication. Or a system for ideas to be evaluated and implemented across the organization. However, the model can be successful if a team of innovation ambassadors and coaches is in place.
Some argue that a hybrid of both models is essential for a company to achieve breakthrough innovation. Regardless of how your organization is structured, you must invest time in teaching your employees how to think creatively and be more innovative. So what can you do to get your employees started on this journey? Here are a few suggestions:
Host a Speaker Series
A speaker series can feature subject matter experts who are passionate about a variety of topics, including creativity, ideation, culture, innovation leadership, etc. This series can provide your community with an opportunity to learn directly from those who have excelled in these fields.
Get Out of the Building
This phrase was coined by serial entrepreneur Steve Blank, who encourages entrepreneurs to practice customer discovery by getting out of the building and talking to customers.
Encourage your employees to talk to as many customers as possible. Their feedback can inform how products are viewed and potentially provide a new perspective on how they think about developing new products.
Host a Book Club, an Article Review and Feedback Sessions, or a Video Review Party.
Take a well-known book or recent article on innovation and discuss and dissect it. Inc’s article 3 Ways a Book Club Can Boost Employee Performance shares that book clubs can help to develop your employees, and increase innovation and team bonding. Here are a few of my favorites:
How To Build Your Creative Confidence (video)
The Corporate Startup (book)
From Inspiration to Implementation (article)
Make it part of the onboarding process
An employee’s first couple of weeks on the job is a prime opportunity for them to be exposed and to be embedded into your company’s business innovation processes and values. Add innovation training to the onboarding agenda, recruit someone from your innovation department to speak, or enlist a senior executive to share the company’s Innovation Thesis and the roadmap for core, adjacent or transformational innovation.
To wrap up, investing in your employee’s innovation capabilities can pay big dividends. The ROI is an employee who has developed an appetite for being more curious, and who can apply innovative techniques to think creatively, find new opportunities, and offer solutions to complex problems.
This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.
This post is by Sonja Sulcer, Innovation Strategist at IdeaScale