For 2021, IdeaScale has three new winners of the Innovation Management Awards: TriHealth for engaging nearly 80% of their workforce; Grant Thornton for pioneering work in automation; and Graybar for an exemplary innovation process.
Best Innovation Process: Graybar
One of the largest employee-owned companies in North America, Graybar offers wholesale electrical, communication, and data networking products and has always thrived on people-first innovation. To that end, the company launched the NEXT Innovation Program, a name chosen from employee feedback.
Run by an innovation council sponsored by the company’s chief strategy officer, and with both standing and rotating members, among the achievements have been the Graybar Innovation Lab at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; a clear, score-driven innovation process; and a series of roles in the company that move an idea from pitch to execution. Our case study is the first paper innovation managers should read to understand what a great innovation process looks like. And for all of you podcast listeners, check out our conversation with Graybar on Apple podcasts or wherever you subscribe.
Best Engagement Strategy: TriHealth
Mark Clement became CEO of TriHealth in 2015 and quickly identified engagement in the innovation process as one of his top goals. The company runs two acute care hospitals and over 130 care sites in the Cincinnati and Ohio area, and Clement knew innovation was crucial to healthcare.
Yet, engagement with 11,000 employees could be seen as a challenge. Clement and his team launched the Bright Ideas program to reach out to every employee. He wrote a heartfelt call for innovation built around the values of TriHealth that was sent out through every internal channel, from meetings to posters in break rooms.
The results say it all: 79% of the organization submitted at least one idea, with 8,671 submitted in 2020 alone. Furthermore, 86% of those ideas were ultimately implemented. The ideas have improved patient outcomes, improved safety at the company’s facilities, and saved the time and money of patients and employees alike.
Best Innovation: Grant Thornton
One of the largest accounting and professional services companies in the world, Grant Thornton began 2020 by celebrating the launch of a global Innovation Exchange. In itself, the Exchange is an impressive tool designed to cross both cultural and language barriers in the company’s global workforce.
Yet as the events of 2020 unfolded, the Exchange became even more important. Company clients desperately needed to automate certain aspects of their work in order not just to find more efficiencies, but in some cases, to stay in operation. The company responded with the Intelligent Automation Service Center, or IASC, which recruited a team of developers in India to quickly respond with automated solutions when American clients had a pressing need.
For example, the company’s Rapid Response Assessment tool was quickly deployed by companies unsure if their business model could survive the pandemic. The initiative is so successful that what started with 200 members in January had, by the end of the year, become a 3,600-member-strong initiative.